Mussels with Meat: Bivalve Tissue-Shell Radiocarbon Age Differences and Archaeological Implications

Fernandes, Ricardo, Bergemann, Stefanie, Hartz, Sönke, Grootes, Pieter M., Nadeau, Marie-Josée, Melzner, Frank, Rakowski, Andrzej and Hüls, Matthias (2012) Mussels with Meat: Bivalve Tissue-Shell Radiocarbon Age Differences and Archaeological Implications Radiocarbon, 54 (3-4). pp. 953-965. DOI 10.1017/S0033822200047597.

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Local reservoir ages are often estimated from the difference between the radiocarbon ages of aquatic material and associated terrestrial samples for which no reservoir effect is expected. Frequently, the selected aquatic material consists of bivalve shells that are typically well preserved in the archaeological record. For instance, large shell middens attest to the importance of mussel consumption at both coastal and inland sites. However, different physiological mechanisms associated with tissue and shell growth may result in differences in reservoir effects between the surviving component (shell) and the component relevant to dietary reservoir effects in consumers (tissue). The current study examines bivalve tissue-shell age differences both from freshwater and marine contexts close to archaeological sites where human consumption of mollusks has been attested. Results exhibited significant 14C age differences between bivalve tissue and shell in a freshwater context. In a marine context, no significant bivalve tissue-shell age differences were observed. The results also showed that riverine and lacustrine shells show large and variable freshwater reservoir effects. The results have important implications for establishing local reservoir effects especially in a freshwater environment. For good a priori knowledge of expected 14C differences in organic and inorganic water, carbon is thus necessary. Furthermore, the high variability in freshwater shell 14C ages implies the need for representative sampling from the archaeological record.

Document Type: Article
Additional Information: WOS:000312156500055
Keywords: Asia; C 14; Cenozoic; Europe; Holocene; Quaternary; United States; Western Europe; absolute age; archaeology; carbon; charcoal; dates; geochronology; isotopes; methods; organic compounds; radioactive isotopes; sediments; stable isotopes; wood; DISSOLVED ORGANIC-MATTER; LABOR AMS FACILITY; MYTILUS-EDULIS; METABOLIC CARBON; RESERVOIR AGES; LATE HOLOCENE; WATER; C-14; MARINE; MIDDEN
Research affiliation: OceanRep > GEOMAR > FB3 Marine Ecology > FB3-EOE-B Experimental Ecology - Benthic Ecology
Kiel University
OceanRep > The Future Ocean - Cluster of Excellence
Refereed: Yes
DOI etc.: 10.1017/S0033822200047597
ISSN: 0033-8222
Projects: Future Ocean
Date Deposited: 22 Nov 2012 12:26
Last Modified: 15 Sep 2016 09:54

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