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date: 18 February 2019

Abstract and Keywords

Radiocarbon dating has had a significant impact on rock art research, but an initial enthusiasm for this dating method by archaeologists has been replaced by a degree of scepticism. Radiocarbon dates undertaken directly on rock art or on associated mineral crusts have often reinforced such scepticism, in part because organic carbon-based materials are present in small quantities and their composition is of such variable composition that the technique is stretched to its limits. For the researcher planning to obtain radiocarbon dates, it is essential to have an understanding of the dating options available, limitations of the technique, the potential impact of their own bias, and the value of a dating programme that is fully integrated within a larger project. This chapter outlines the various materials and methods used to radiocarbon date rock art. It includes some recent examples and highlights some advances as well as shortfalls in the dating of rock art.

Keywords: radiocarbon, oxalate, carbon black, Bayesian chronology.

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