Skip to content

Research at St Andrews

Alkali extraction of archaeological and geological charcoal: evidence for diagenetic degradation and formation of humic acids

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Author(s)

Philippa L. Ascough, Michael I. Bird, S. M. Francis, T. Lebl

School/Research organisations

Abstract

Charcoal forms a crucial source of archaeological and palaeoenvironmental data, providing a record of cultural activities, past climatic conditions and a means of chronological control via radiocarbon (C-14) dating. Key to this is the perceived resistance of charcoal to post-depositional alteration, however recent research has highlighted the possibility for alteration and degradation of charcoal in the environment. An important aspect of such diagenesis is the potential for addition of exogenous "humic acids' (HAs), to affect the accuracy of archaeological and palaeoenvironmental reconstructions based upon chemical analyses of HA-containing charcoal. However the release of significant quantities of HA from apparently pristine charcoals raises the question whether some HA could be derived via diagenetic alteration of charcoal itself. Here we address this question through comparison of freshly produced charcoal with samples from archaeological and geological sites exposed to environmental conditions for millennia using elemental (C/H/O) and isotopic (delta C-13) measurements, Fourier Transform Infrared Spectroscopy (FTIR) and proton Liquid-State Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (H-1 NMR). The results of analyses show that the presence of highly carboxylated and aromatic alkali-extractable HA in charcoal from depositional environments can often be attributable to the effects of post-depositional processes, and that these substances can represent the products of post-depositional diagenetic alteration in charcoal. (C) 2010 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

Close

Details

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)69-78
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Archaeological Science
Volume38
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2011

    Research areas

  • Charcoal, Humic acid, Oxidative degradation, Radiocarbon, BLACK CARBON, ORGANIC-MATTER, STRUCTURAL-CHARACTERIZATION, ACTIVATED CARBONS, MASS-SPECTROMETRY, SODIUM-HYDROXIDE, SOIL, SUBSTANCES, SPECTROSCOPY, WOOD

Discover related content
Find related publications, people, projects and more using interactive charts.

View graph of relations

Related by author

  1. Conjugated, rigidified bibenzimidazole ancillary ligands for enhanced photoluminescence quantum yields of orange/red-emitting iridium(III) complexes

    Henwood, A. F., Antón-García, D., Morin, M., Rota Martir, D., Cordes, D. B., Casey, C., Slawin, A. M. Z., Lebl, T., Buehl, M. & Zysman-Colman, E., 14 Jul 2019, In : Dalton Transactions. 48, 26

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

  2. Using fractionation and diffusion ordered spectroscopy to study lignin molecular weight

    Montgomery, J., Bazley, P., Lebl, T. & Westwood, N. J., May 2019, In : ChemistryOpen. 8, 5, p. 601-605 5 p.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

  3. Preparation and reactivity of biomass-derived dihydro-dioxins

    Montgomery, J., Kempf, K., Miles-Barrett, D. M., Kempf, O., Lebl, T. & Westwood, N. J., 10 Jan 2019, In : CHEMSUSCHEM. 12, 1, p. 190-193 4 p.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

  4. Polycyclic ethers and an unexpected dearomatisation reaction during studies towards the bioactive alkaloid, perophoramidine

    Johnston, C. A., Wilkie, R. P., Krauss, H., Neal, A. R., Slawin, A. M. Z., Lebl, T. & Westwood, N. J., 28 Jun 2018, In : Tetrahedron. 74, 26, p. 3339-3347

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Related by journal

  1. Facilitating tree-ring dating of historic conifer timbers using Blue Intensity

    Wilson, R., Wilson, D., Rydval, M., Crone, A., Büntgen, U., Clark, S., Ehmer, J., Forbes, E., Fuentes, M., Gunnarson, B. E., Linderholm, H. W., Nicolussi, K., Wood, C. V. & Mills, C., Feb 2017, In : Journal of Archaeological Science. 78, p. 99-111 13 p.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

  2. Optically-stimulated luminescence profiling and dating of historic agricultural terraces in Catalonia (Spain)

    Kinnaird, T., Bolòs, J., Turner, A. & Turner, S., Feb 2017, In : Journal of Archaeological Science. 78, p. 66-77 12 p.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

  3. The environmental context of the Neolithic monuments on the Brodgar Isthmus, Mainland, Orkney

    Bates, C. R., Bates, M., Dawson, S., Huws, D., Whittaker, J. & Wickham-Jones, C., Jun 2016, In : Journal of Archaeological Science. 7, p. 394-407 14 p.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

  4. Trace element fingerprinting of ceramic building material from Carpow and York Roman fortresses manufactured by the VI Legion

    Finlay, A. J., McComish, J. M., Ottley, C. J., Bates, C. R. & Selby, D., Jul 2012, In : Journal of Archaeological Science. 39, 7, p. 2385-2391 7 p.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

ID: 6038709

Top