Radiocarbon Dating of Buildings Using Historic Mortar Samples
Tuesday, 14 October 2014 from 19:30 to 21:30 (BST)
San Francisco, California
London, United Kingdom
Radiocarbon Dating of Buildings Using Historic Mortar Samples by Dr Gianluca Pesce
Radiocarbon dating is one of the most important dating methods currently applied in the field of cultural heritage. It has been used since the mid-1940s and is mainly associated with the dating of organic matter such as bones or charcoal but its use can be extended to inorganic matter containing carbon such as carbonated lime.
There is a lack of awareness of the drawbacks and limitations associated with the technique. After early attempts in the mid-1960s, a new technique has been proposed and successfully applied to a number of cases. This is based on the use of lumps of pure lime which are very often embedded in old mortars and plasters. To date, 34 samples from 12 different archaeological sites have been dated. Overall, results show that approximately 88% of the dated samples provided chronological data aligned with the archaeological framework. Furthermore, results demonstrate that, when successful, even the radiocarbon dating of a single lump can provide useful information and this makes this technique more applicable compared to the others.
The aim of this talk is to introduce the basic principles of the radiocarbon dating of historic lime based materials and highlight the main applications of the pure lime lumps technique, providing the necessary reference for a deeper understanding of the results achievable.