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The pitfalls of radiocarbon dating

The team found what may be a hearth used to roast bog iron, as well as a structure, of some type, made with turf.These finds, the researchers say, suggest that Vikings may have used the site, though more dating information and excavation are needed to confirm that idea, they said.Kent Budden died in 2008, and his brother Owen Budden showed photographs of the artifacts to Live Science.(Before he died, Kent Budden also gave a presentation of the collection, which can now be seen on You Tube.)Mcaleese said he is not very familiar with the collection.A structure that may have been used by the Vikings was in the process of being excavated in 2012, when lead archaeologist Patricia Sutherland was abruptly fired from the Canadian Museum of Civilization (now called the Canadian Museum of History) and the excavations were terminated.

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Sagas from the time of the Vikings tell tales of their journeys into the New World, mentioning places named "Helluland" (widely believed to be modern-day Baffin Island), "Markland" (widely believed to be Labrador) and "Vinland," which is a more mysterious location that some archaeologists have argued could be Newfoundland.

In contrast, charcoal from the Nauwalabila site has been so severely altered that insufficient of the original carbon remains for reliable (super 14) C dating.

Finally, where the charcoal is well preserved, such as at the Carpenter's Gap site, the new results provide reassurance that earlier (super 14) C results of approximately 40 ka BP are indeed true ages and are not simply at the limit of the (super 14) C technique.

Perhaps the Vikings drove animals toward the pits, where they would have fallen in and been killed, said Kevin Mcaleese, a curator of archaeology and ethnology at the Provincial Museum of Newfoundland and Labrador.

The team did find stones inside the pitfalls that could have injured animals that had fallen inside.


  1. The review by Mellars 1 provides an archaeo-logical perspective on some of the latest developments in radiocarbon dating of bone. However, his presentation.

  2. Radiocarbon dating of the human occupation of Australia prior to 40 ka BP; successes and pitfalls.

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