Radiocarbon Dating Versus Luminescence Dating in the Pacific Northwest


In the Pacific Northwest of North America, the radiocarbon dating of charcoal has become the standard for assigning age to archaeological contexts. Other dating techniques are seldom used. Underused techniques like luminescence dating can apply when organic materials for radiocarbon dating are absent, unreliable or not associated with events of interest. In the Pacific Northwest, luminescence dating is beginning to be used for dating features containing fire-modified rock. By dating the last exposure to sufficient heat, luminescence has potential of high accuracy, even if precision is less than radiocarbon. Here we compare paired radiocarbon dates on charcoal and luminescence dates on fire-modified rock from seven feature contexts in three archaeological sites. A strong association between these radiocarbon and luminescence dates could justify an increased use of luminescence dating. All samples were recovered from hearth or oven features. The results of this analysis indicate a close relationship of the match-pairs within 2-sigma date ranges, indicating luminescence is a viable alternative for chronometric dating in the Pacific Northwest. The ability to date fire-modified rock features is especially important for tracing the age and distribution of rock ovens along with the intensification of plant use between 5000 and 2000 years ago.

Cite this Record

Radiocarbon Dating Versus Luminescence Dating in the Pacific Northwest. James Brown, James Chatters, Patrick McCutcheon, James Feathers, Steven Hackenerger. Presented at The 81st Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Vancouver, British Columbia. 2017 ( tDAR id: 429140)

This Resource is Part of the Following Collections

Spatial Coverage

min long: -169.717; min lat: 42.553 ; max long: -122.607; max lat: 71.301 ;

Record Identifiers

Abstract Id(s): 16325