Using Cryptotephra in Archaeology: Precise Correlations and Improved Age Estimates


This is an abstract from the "SAA 2019: General Sessions" session, at the 84th annual meeting of the Society for American Archaeology.

Establishing robust and reliable chronologies at archaeological sites is essential for understanding the sequence and timing of past events. At the Middle-to-Upper Paleolithic site Arma Veirana (AV, Liguria, Italy), robust chronologies are especially important for answering questions regarding the Middle-to-Upper Paleolithic transition in Europe. Because the radiocarbon method has a limit of 50,000 years, this period has not been reliably dated. AV contains deposits with cultural industries attributed to Neanderthals and anatomically modern humans (AMH). Cryptotephra, also known as microscopic volcanic ash, were recently identified at AV in a stratigraphic unit known as the Black Mousterian (BM). AMS radiocarbon dates of charcoal samples collected in the BM were reported as infinite ages. Because these dates are close to the measurement limit of radiocarbon, the presence of cryptotephra provides a way to test these existing dates as well as establish a precise isochron to correlate with other sites. Both major and trace chemistries show unique geochemical signatures and are rare for volcanoes in the central Mediterranean region. With potentially two different populations present, this provides the perfect opportunity to establish unprecedented temporal correlations between other key sites throughout this region, significantly reducing temporal uncertainty within inter-site comparisons.

Cite this Record

Using Cryptotephra in Archaeology: Precise Correlations and Improved Age Estimates. Jayde Hirniak, Eugene Smith, Racheal Johnsen, Shelby Fitch, Minghua Ren. Presented at The 84th Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Albuquerque, NM. 2019 ( tDAR id: 450186)

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Spatial Coverage

min long: -13.711; min lat: 35.747 ; max long: 8.965; max lat: 59.086 ;

Record Identifiers

Abstract Id(s): 24966