The University of Arizona

Preface—Radiocarbon and Diet: Aquatic Food Resources and Reservoir Effects

Ricardo Fernandes, John Meadows, Alexander Dreves


One of the most exciting fields in current radiocarbon research is the study of aquatic radiocarbon reservoir effects (RREs). Potential RREs pose a challenge when chronologies are based on 14C dating of food or human remains, providing an impetus for new and improved efforts to detect and quantify RREs in archaeological materials. Examples of such developments include compound-specific isotopic and 14C analysis, and novel statistical methods to reconstruct ancient diets. Awareness of RREs has also created new research opportunities; in particular, radiocarbon is increasingly being employed as an environmental and dietary tracer in ecological and archaeological studies, requiring a better understanding of the spatial and temporal variability of aquatic RREs.

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