Obsidian Hydration Dating at a Recent Age Obsidian Mining Site in Papua, New Guinea

  • W. R. Ambrose
Part of the Advances in Archaeological and Museum Science book series (AAMS, volume 3)


The relatively high temperature of the humid tropics accelerates weathering processes, including the hydration of obsidian, where the warm conditions can promote a measurable hydration thickness in less than fifty years. On the other hand, the aggressive weathering environment is capable of reducing the obsidian surface to make standard measurements untenable. By targeting protected fissures not exposed to surface weathering effects, a consistent series of hydration readings has allowed age determinations of an obsidian mine site where the radiocarbon dates are unreliable, or fall within the undateable “modern” of the last 300 years. The results of this approach, including long term laboratory-based hydration rate determinations, show that obsidian hydration dating is a viable dating system free of dependence on other dating methods to provide its time constants.


Radiocarbon Date Site Temperature Humid Tropic Hydration Rate Surface Loss 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1998

Authors and Affiliations

  • W. R. Ambrose
    • 1
  1. 1.Division of Archaeology and Natural HistoryResearch School of Pacific and Asian Studies, Australian National UniversityCanberraAustralia

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