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Sample Treatment Strategies in Radiocarbon Dating

  • R. E. M. Hedges

Abstract

The chemical conversion of a sample in its pristine state to the form in which the abundance of radiocarbon can be directly measured is the main link between the “radiocarbon date” and the basic assumptions upon which this date rests. The importance of this link was recognized from the beginning (Libby 1954), but as radiocarbon dating became more routine, sample pretreatment and subsequent conversion to a medium suitable for 14C detection has, more and more, been taken for granted. The changes in radiocarbon dating brought about by the accelerator mass spectrometry (AMS) measuring technique (Gove 1978; Kutschera 1981; Wölfli, Polach & Anderson 1984; Gove, Litherland & Elmore 1987; Yiou & Raisbeck 1990), and the consequent reduction in sample size by a factor of at least a thousand, has stimulated a re-examination of many pretreatment methods, and thereby enabled the link between assumption and date to be more closely controlled. This account describes how that has happened.

Keywords

Radiocarbon Date Accelerator Mass Spectrometry Accelerator Mass Spectrometry Carbonaceous Residue Interdisciplinary Perspective 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1992

Authors and Affiliations

  • R. E. M. Hedges

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