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    Fifty years of obsidian hydration dating in archaeology

    It (1) reviews how this dating technique was first discovered and applied, (2) details our current knowledge of the process of hydration and which variables affect its rate, (3) discusses the relative advantages and limitations of the three primary approaches employed to construct hydration chronologies, and (4) presents a protocol for its future application in Mesoamerica.The synthesis of this body of hydration-dating research may help archaeologists more constructively decide how and when to apply this unique and versatile dating technique to their specific research questions by providing the information and guidelines necessary for recovering pertinent field data.The unstable and radioactive carbon 14, called radiocarbon, is a naturally occurring isotope of the element carbon.When a living thing dies, it stops interacting with the biosphere, and the carbon 14 in it remains unaffected by the biosphere but will naturally undergo decay.The ability to conduct analyses using those minimally (LA-ICP-MS) or totally (XRF, p XRF) non-destructive to artifacts has led to 10,000 analyses just in the last decade.Along with the ability to assign artifacts to specific geological subsources, and an increased number of studies of techno-typology, this has allowed interpretations to be made about source access and territorial control, craft specialization and the chaîne opératoire, as well as the modes, frequency, and directions of movement and how that varied spacially and temporally.

    The implication of what is represented by the carbon 14 activity of a sample must be considered.

    The proportion of carbon 14 in the sample examined provides an indication of the time elapsed since death of the sample’s source.

    Radiocarbon dating results are reported in uncalibrated years BP (Before Present), where BP is defined as AD 1950.

    Obsidian distribution and usage in the central Mediterranean continued over four-and-one-half millennia, in many areas well into the Bronze Age.

    There is much more still to do integrating these different studies, especially use-wear studies, along with those of lithic and other materials that also played a role in prehistoric transport and trade systems.

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