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Amino acid racemization dating of marine shells: a mound of possibilities

Demarchi, Beatrice, Williams, Matthew G.M., Milner, Nicky, Russell, Nicola, Bailey, Geoffrey N. and Penkman, Kirsty (2011) Amino acid racemization dating of marine shells: a mound of possibilities. Quaternary International. pp. 114-124. ISSN 1040-6182

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Abstract

Shell middens are one of the most important and widespread indicators for human exploitation of marine resources and occupation of coastal environments. Establishing an accurate and reliable chronology for these deposits has fundamental implications for understanding the patterns of human evolution and dispersal. This paper explores the potential application of a new methodology of amino acid racemization (AAR) dating of shell middens and describes a simple protocol to test the suitability of different molluscan species. This protocol provides a preliminary test for the presence of an intracrystalline fraction of proteins (by bleaching experiments and subsequent heating at high temperature), checking the closed system behaviour of this fraction during diagenesis. Only species which pass both tests can be considered suitable for further studies to obtain reliable age information. This amino acid geochronological technique is also applied to midden deposits at two latitudinal extremes: Northern Scotland and the Southern Red Sea. Results obtained in this study indicate that the application of this new method of AAR dating of shells has the potential to aid the geochronological investigation of shell mounds in different areas of the world.

Item Type: Article
Copyright, Publisher and Additional Information: This is an author-created pdf of an Accepted Author Manuscript (AAM) uploaded in accordance with the publisher's self-archiving policy.
Keywords: Amino acid racemization (AAR), Geochronology, iIntracrystalline protein, Shell midden, Holocene, Earth-Surface Processes
Institution: The University of York
Academic Units: The University of York > Chemistry (York)
The University of York > Archaeology (York)
Depositing User: Prof Geoff Bailey
Date Deposited: 30 Sep 2010 14:12
Last Modified: 20 Aug 2014 16:31
Published Version: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.quaint.2010.05.029
Status: Published
Refereed: Yes
Related URLs:
URI: http://eprints.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/11219

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