Encyclopedia of Scientific Dating Methods

2015 Edition
| Editors: W. Jack Rink, Jeroen W. Thompson

Amino Acid Racemization Dating

  • Beatrice Demarchi
  • Matthew Collins
Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-94-007-6304-3_73

Synonyms

AAR, Protein diagenesis geochronology

Definition

A method for estimating the relative age since death by assessing the extent of postmortem conversion of biological chiral forms of amino acids (l-enantiomers) to their nonbiological counterparts (d-enantiomers).

Introduction

Amino acid racemization (AAR) dating is a geochronological technique with a very long history. Over the past 60 years, many researchers and laboratories around the world have been involved with the development of the method and its application to diverse environments. Its time depth and applicability to a wide range of substrates are the main strengths of this method. Its main weakness is the fact that it is a molecular- rather than an atomic-scale reaction (cf. radionuclide decay), and as a consequence the rate is sensitive to temperature. Useful review articles for understanding the principles of AAR dating are those of Miller and Brigham-Grette (1989), Mitterer (1993), Rutter and Blackwell (1995),...

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Notes

Acknowledgments

We are truly indebted to two anonymous reviewers for their comments on this manuscript. Their insight in the earlier phases of development of the technique, which they were willing to share with us, has been of invaluable help in compiling this review. The responsibility for any errors or inaccuracies still present is entirely ours.

Kirsty Penkman and the AAR group in York are thanked for their help, support, and discussion over the years.

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© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.BioArCh, Department of ArchaeologyUniversity of YorkYorkUK