An investigation into the archaeological application of carbon stable isotope analysis used to establish crop water availability: solutions and ways forward

This source preferred by Emma Jenkins

Authors: Stokes, H., Muldner, G. and Jenkins, E.L.

Editors: Mithen, S. and Black, E.

Pages: 373-380

Publisher: Cambridge University Press/UNESCO

Place of Publication: Cambridge, England/ New York

ISBN: 9780521769570

Carbon stable isotope analysis of charred cereal remains is a relatively new method employed by archaeological scientists to investigate ancient climate and irrigation regimes. The aim of this study was to assess the effect of environmental variables on carbon isotope discrimination (D) in multiple environments to develop the technique and its archaeological application, using crops grown at three experimental stations in Jordan.

There are two key results: (1) as expected, there was a strong positive relationship between water availability and D; (2) site, not water input, was the most important factor in determining D. Future work should concentrate on establishing ways of correcting D for the influence of site specific environmental variables and on assessing how well carbon isotope discrimination values are preserved within the archaeological record.

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