Demographic Artifacts of the Radiocarbon Calibration Curve: Implications for Identifying Mechanisms of Social Transformation

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Title: Demographic Artifacts of the Radiocarbon Calibration Curve: Implications for Identifying Mechanisms of Social Transformation
Author: Culleton, Brendan J.; Kennett, Douglas J.; Erlandson, Jon M.
Abstract: Archaeologists working on the Northern Channel Islands of California have use changing frequency of radiocarbon-dated components through time as a proxy for demographic change (e.g., Arnold 1992; Erlandson et al. 2001; Glassow 1999). Fluctuations in the number of dated components have been interpreted as demographic changes in response to climatic instability, introduction of disease, or social transformation (Arnold 1992; Erlandson et al. 2001; Kennett and Kennett 2000; Kennett 2005), assuming a correlation between the number of dated components and population size (see Rick 1997). To what extent are these shifts caused by fluctuations in the calibration curve? Here we model the regular creation of datable archaeological carbon to explore the effect of variable atmospheric 14C production calibrated component frequencies, focusing on the last 2000 cal BP. We show that some periods are likely to systematically over- or underestimate the number components present when intercepts are used to organize 14C databases for demographic analyses.
Description: Poster presented at the 2006 Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, San Juan, Puerto Rico.
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/1794/3494
Date: 2006-04


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