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Non-destructive radiocarbon and stable isotopic analyses of archaeological materials using plasma oxidation
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Plasma oxidation, an alternative to combustion, is shown to be a non-destructive method for obtaining radiocarbon dates on perishable organic artifacts. Electrically excited oxygen gently converts organic carbon to carbon dioxide. Radiocarbon measurements are then performed using accelerator mass spectrometry. Because only sub-milligram amounts of material are removed from an artifact over its exposed surface, no visible change in fragile materials has been observed, even under magnification. Materials in this study include: Third International Radiocarbon Intercomparison (TIRI) sample B (Belfast pine); Fourth International Radiocarbon Intercomparison (FIRI) optional samples; six different materials from a naturally mummified baby bundle from southwest Texas; and peyote from Shumla Caves, Texas, and Cuatro Ci??negas, Mexico. Continuing previous research in the Rowe laboratory, a primary application of plasma oxidation has been its use to date rock art at archaeological sites around the world. This dissertation includes dates for: Toca do Serrote da Bastiana, Brazil; Ignatievskaya Cave, Russia; partially buried megalithic monuments, Spain; Arnold/Tainter Cave, Wisconsin; and Little Lost River Cave No. 1, Idaho.
Steelman, Karen Lynn (2004). Non-destructive radiocarbon and stable isotopic analyses of archaeological materials using plasma oxidation. Doctoral dissertation, Texas A&M University. Texas A&M University. Available electronically from