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Direct radiocarbon dating of Spanish moss (Tillandsia usneoides) from early fiber-tempered pottery in the southeastern U.S.

Gilmore, Zackary I.
Journal of archaeological science 2015 v.58 pp. 1-8
Tillandsia usneoides, archaeology, databases, hygiene, radiocarbon dating, Florida, Georgia
Growing archaeological interest in illuminating human-scale events and experiences in the ancient past has led to increased scrutiny of chronological assumptions based on old and (by today's standards) imprecise radiocarbon databases. One result has been a greater awareness of the need for more numerous and higher quality assays that can be directly linked to the specific events in question. In this paper, a method is described and tested for extracting and directly dating the organic fiber temper characteristic of North America's oldest pottery technology. Multiple extraction techniques are considered, as are a number of chemical pretreatment options. Six pairs of assays on Orange and Stallings vessels from Florida and Georgia are used to demonstrate the veracity of radiocarbon age estimates from fiber temper. In each of these cases, the fiber assay meets or exceeds recently proposed chronometric hygiene standards.