A lake fortress, a floating chronology, and an atmospheric anomaly: the surprising results of a radiocarbon wiggle-match from Āraiši, Latvia
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Dendrochronological Laboratory, Institute of Latvian History at the University of Latvia, Riga, Latvia
Online publication date: 2014-06-22
Publication date: 2014-09-01
Geochronometria 2014;41(3):223-233
An Iron Age timber settlement which, in view of the defensive structures uncovered, is described as a lake fortress, on an island in Lake Āraiši, north-eastern Latvia, was excavated in 1965–69 and 1975–79 by teams led by Jānis Apals, who distinguished five construction phases. Dendrochronological analysis produced a c. 100-year floating chronology for Norway spruce (Picea abies (L.) Karst.) timbers from the earliest phase. A 14C wiggle-match was undertaken to obtain an absolute date range for the final year of the floating chronology, and thus for the construction of the settlement. Ten blocks of wood from one timber, each comprising 6-11 years and collectively spanning the whole 93-year tree-ring series, were dated by AMS. Using the IntCal13 calibration data, there is a 95% probability that the felling date of this timber falls in the range 775–784 cal AD. It appears, however, that the AD 775 spike in the atmospheric 14C level occurred within the 6-year span of the last sample. On this basis, we can narrow the date of construction to 776–780 cal AD. This date is significantly earlier than those reported in previous publications.
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