Re: Early diets

David Darryl Bibb (
7 May 1994 17:38:46 GMT

In article <>, <> wrote:
>In article <2qc0e3$> (David Darryl Bibb) writes:
>>What would the effect be on the radiocarbon dating of human material which
>>came from someone who ate shellfish? Would the date be thrown off?
>marine shellfish certainly would affect a radiocarbon date on the
>bone collagen of the eater. There is an effect sometimes termed "the
>apparent age of sea water" which requires that dates on shell be corrected
>as they are too old. The amount to be subtracted varies regionally as one
>can see if using the Calib. programme (Minze Stuiver et al)( and it will
>also have cjanged with time). Eating the the flesh of molluscs will have an
>effect roughly proportional to the amount of shellfood in the overall
>protein diet. Excavators of shellmiddens should be aware of this if well
>contextualised burials are obtained which appear to be slightly discrepant
>in dated age compared to the horizons from which they came. FYI in S Africa
>the subtracted time is €400 years.

Many thanks for the information. I rather thought there would have to be
some problems involved with such dating. I assume fresh water shellfood
would not suffer from the same problems.

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