Hell Gap in a New Light: Luminescence Results from the Witness Block

Author(s): Tammy Rittenour; Heidi VanEtten; Judson Finley

Year: 2019


This is an abstract from the "Hell Gap at 60: Myth? Reality? What Has It Taught Us?" session, at the 84th annual meeting of the Society for American Archaeology.

The Witness Block (Locality I) at Hell Gap preserves a well-studied open-air stratified record of near-continuous Paleoindian occupation. Radiocarbon-based age control has been problematic due to age reversals and inconsistencies related to old and young carbon contamination and calibration uncertainties. Recent work by Pelton et al. (2017) has used Bayesian analysis to tease-out a satisfactory age-depth model using the available radiocarbon ages. However, limited age control from some strata, low calibrated resolution of older radiocarbon ages, and inherent contamination/mixing problems in an open-air site have reduced the precision of the age-depth model. In order to provide independent age control for the Witness Block we have collected 15 samples for optically stimulated luminescence (OSL) dating. Preliminary OSL results range from 13.6 to 11.9 cal ka (stratum D2 to E3) and are in stratigraphic order except for two samples that produced younger than expected ages, likely due to sampling unrecognized krotovina. OSL results from samples spanning stratum D2 to F2 (2 m of section, covering ~14-8 cal ka) will be compared to the radiocarbon chronology and the existing Bayesian age-depth model. We highlight differences and similarities between the two chronologies and discuss implications for site formation and paleoenvironmental interpretation.

Cite this Record

Hell Gap in a New Light: Luminescence Results from the Witness Block. Tammy Rittenour, Heidi VanEtten, Judson Finley. Presented at The 84th Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Albuquerque, NM. 2019 ( tDAR id: 452196)

Record Identifiers

Abstract Id(s): 24694