, Volume 40, Issue 1, pp 33-41
Date: 31 Oct 2012

Cretaceous aggregate and reservoir effect in dating of binding materials

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Lime mortars may contain carbon from different origins. If the mortars are made of totally burnt lime, radiocarbon dating yields the true age of building construction. The presence of carbonaceous aggregates gives the so-called dead carbon effect, which may generate older ages. Another source of carbon is charcoal present in mortars. An attempt has been made to apply the radiocarbon method to mortars of archaeologically estimated age from the Dead Sea region. Petrographical analyses of these samples show the carbonaceous character of the binder and large amounts of limestone aggregate. Determination of the mineral composition of the mortars and comparison with the geology of the surrounding, allows the provenance of the raw materials to be identified. They probably represent the Cretaceous rocks of the Judea Group.

Separate radiocarbon dates were made on bulk mortar samples, binder, charcoal fragments and separated fractions from mortars. In the case of binder-aggregate mixture the reservoir effect correction has been applied.