Stable isotopes, chronology and Bayesian models for the Viking archaeology of north-east Iceland

Hamilton, W. D. and Sayle, K. L. (2019) Stable isotopes, chronology and Bayesian models for the Viking archaeology of north-east Iceland. Journal of Island and Coastal Archaeology, 14(1), pp. 71-81. (doi: 10.1080/15564894.2017.1363097)

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This paper reviews the results of a long-term research project that used stable isotope analyses (δ13C, δ15N, δ34S) and Bayesian mixing models to better model the chronology for a presumed Viking Age cemetery at Hofstaðir, near Lake Mývatn in north-east Iceland. δ13C and radiocarbon dating indicated that many of the individuals consumed a large amount of marine protein, which results in a marine reservoir effect (MRE), making ages older than expected. In addition to the MRE, geological activity in the region has the potential to introduce massive quantities of radioactive ‘dead’ carbon into the freshwater system, resulting in a very large freshwater reservoir effect (FRE) that can offset radiocarbon ages on the order of a few thousand years. The radiocarbon dates of organisms that derive an unknown proportion of their carbon from both marine and freshwater reservoirs are extremely difficult to ‘correct’, or, more appropriately, model. The research not only highlights the complexities of dealing with multiple reservoirs, but also how important it is to develop models that are temporally and geographically relevant to the site under study. Finally, it shows how this data can be used to inform the development of chronological models for refining the dating for archaeological activity.

Item Type:Articles
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Sayle, Dr Kerry and Hamilton, Dr Derek
Authors: Hamilton, W. D., and Sayle, K. L.
Subjects:C Auxiliary Sciences of History > CC Archaeology
College/School:College of Science and Engineering > Scottish Universities Environmental Research Centre
Journal Name:Journal of Island and Coastal Archaeology
Publisher:Routledge, Taylor & Francis Group
ISSN (Online):1556-1828
Published Online:07 November 2017
Copyright Holders:Copyright © 2017 W. Derek Hamilton and Kerry L. Sayle
First Published:First published in Journal of Island and Coastal Archaeology 14:71-81
Publisher Policy:Reproduced under a Creative Commons License

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