The University of Arizona

Freshwater Reservoir Effect Variability in Northern Germany

Bente Philippsen, Jan Heinemeier


The freshwater reservoir effect is a potential problem when radiocarbon dating fish bones, shells, human bones, or food crusts on pottery from sites near rivers or lakes. The reservoir age in hardwater rivers can be up to several thousand years and may be highly variable. Accurate 14C dating of freshwater-based samples requires knowing the order of magnitude of the reservoir effect and its degree of variability. Measurements on modern riverine materials may not give a single reservoir age correction that can be applied to archaeological samples, but they show the order of magnitude and variability that can also be expected for the past. This knowledge will be applied to the dating of food crusts on pottery from the Mesolithic sites Kayhude at the Alster River and Schlamersdorf at the Trave River, both in Schleswig-Holstein, northern Germany.

DOI: 10.2458/azu_js_rc.55.16065


freshwater reservoir effect; food crusts on pottery; rivers

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