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Tell Es-Sultan (Jericho): Radiocarbon Results of Short-Lived Cereal and Multiyear Charcoal Samples From the End of the Middle Bronze Age

Hendrik J. Bruins, Johannes van der Plicht


Samples from Tell es-Sultan, Jericho, were selected for high-precision 14C dating as a contribution toward the establishment of an independent radiocarbon chronology of Near Eastern archaeology. The material derives from archaeological excavations conducted by K. M. Kenyon in the 1950s. We present here the results of 18 samples, associated stratigraphically with the end of the Middle Bronze Age (MBA) at Tell es-Sultan. Six short-lived samples consist of charred cereal grains and 12 multiyear samples are composed of charcoal. The weighted average 14C date of the short-lived grains is 3306 ± 7 BP. The multiyear charcoal yielded, as expected, a somewhat older average: 3370 ± 6 BP. Both dates are more precise than the standard deviation (σ) of the calibration curves and the absolute standard of oxalic acid. Calibration of the above Jericho dates is a bit premature, because several groups are currently testing the accuracy of both the 1986 and 1993 calibration curves. Nevertheless, preliminary calibration results are presented for comparison, based on 4 different calibration curves and 3 different computer programs. Wiggles in the calibration curves translate the precise BP dates into rather wide ranges in historical years. The final destruction of MBA Jericho occurred during the late 17th or the 16th century BC. More definite statements about the calibrated ages cannot be made until the accuracy of available calibration curves has been tested. Development of calibration curves for the Eastern Mediterranean region would be important.

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