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Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/10204/2255

Title: Stable carbon isotope ratios from archaeological charcoal as palaeoenvironmental indicators
Authors: Hall, G
Woodborne, SM
Scholes, M
Keywords: Archaeological charcoal
Palaeoenvironments
Carbon isotope ratios
Issue Date: Jan-2008
Publisher: Elsevier Science B.V
Citation: Hall, G, Woodborne, SM and Scholes, M. 2008. Stable carbon isotope ratios from archaeological charcoal as palaeoenvironmental indicators. Chemical Geology, Vol. 247(3-4), pp 384-400
Abstract: The potential to provide environmental proxies using stable carbon isotopes from modern and archaeological charcoal is explored. Experiments on modern Podocarpus (Yellowwoods) show that δ13C values of stems, branches and charcoal preserve proxy environmental conditions, including rainfall, humidity and temperature. An additional experiment showed that combustion temperature affects the carbon isotope signature of charcoal. Burning at 450 °C to 500 °C depletes δ13C values with respect to the original wood, but the charcoal retains the seasonal and inter-annual isotopic trends recorded during the growth of the tree. The δ13C of Podocarpus charcoal from three levels from the Middle Stone Age site of Sibudu Cave, KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa, was compared with modern analogues from two different environments, Seaton Park (KwaZulu-Natal) and the Baviaans Kloof (Eastern Cape). Other environmental proxies from levels dated from N70 ka and ~48 ka, show that environmental conditions changed from warmer and wetter to colder and drier and finally becoming warmer and drier. The isotope data is consistent with this reconstruction. The results from this series of experiments indicate that it is possible to obtain meaningful palaeoenvironmental information from δ13C values of archaeological charcoal
Description: Copyright: 2008 Elsevier Science B.V
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/10204/2255
ISSN: 0009-2541
Appears in Collections:Ecosystems processes & dynamics
General science, engineering & technology

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