Iron key dating
References: Barrett, J, Bowden M & Mc Omish, D 2011 The problem of continuity.Reassessing the shape of the British Iron Age sequence, in T Moore & L Armada (eds) Atlantic Europe in the first millennium BC, 439–48.Megiddo (Israel) is a key site for the study of the stratigraphy, chronology, and history of the Bronze and Iron Ages in the Levant.The article presents a Bayesian chronological model for seven ceramic typology phases and 10 stratigraphic horizons at this site, covering the Late Bronze and much of the Iron Age.14C dating was long neglected, because it was thought to allow less precision than artefact dating and because of the ‘Hallstatt plateau’ between 800–400 BC. This has created gaps in the familiar sequence, with knock-on consequences for the models that govern our perceptions of Iron Age societies (Barrett et al. An example is the 2nd to 1st century BC void identified by 14C dating of the metalwork that underpins the pottery typologies used to date most settlements.The last decade, has however seen major advances in methodology and through specific 14C dating projects (e.g. If a re-alignment of insular and continental chronologies is found to be necessary, this will have major implications for our interpretation of the mid to late Iron Age transition in Britain.Oxford: OUP Garrow, D, Gosden, C, Hill, JD & Bronk Ramsey, C 2009 Dating Celtic art: a major radiocarbon dating programme of Iron Age and early Roman metalwork, Archaeol J 166, 79–123 Hamilton, D 2010Jay, M, Haselgrove, C, Hamilton, D, Hill, JD & Dent, J 2012 Chariots and context: new radiocarbon dates and the chronology of Iron Age burials and brooches in East Yorkshire, Oxford J Archaeol 31, 161–89.The large quarry adjacent to the modern-day ultra-Orthodox neighborhood dates to the first century CE and would have been active around the time of the Second Temple in Jerusalem.
This set of data provides a reliable skeleton for the discussion of cultural processes and historical events in the region and beyond, including the periods of the Egyptian empire in Canaan and the Northern Kingdom of Israel.
Similar14C dating programmes have already altered our understanding of other periods of British and world prehistory, as well as individual sites such as Stonehenge.
The current project is seen as a step on the way to putting Iron Age chronologies on a firmer footing. Hillforts are the most iconic monuments surviving from Iron Age Britain, dominating academic and public perceptions of the period.
In combination with Bayesian modelling, it is now possible to date many archaeological events to a margin of decades not centuries, and potentially to surmount the problems that previously plagued radiocarbon dating of the Iron Age.
This collaborative project between Leicester, Oxford and the Scottish Universities Environmental Research Centre funded by the Leverhulme Trust (RPG-2013-009) aims to build a new time-line for the Danebury area both by reworking the 1980s results (Fig 1) and by obtaining 300 new 14C dates.