Development of radiocarbon dating method for degraded bone samples from Korean archaeological sites

K. J. Kim, W. Hong, J. H. Park, H. J. Woo, G. Hodgins, A. J.T. Jull, Y. J. Lee, J. Y. Kim

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


The development of radiocarbon dating for degraded bone samples collected at Korean archaeological sites has been successful through the characterization of raw bone C/N ratios and application of an ultrafiltration method. It was found that the C/N ratios of raw bone samples are inversely proportional to the carbon content and residue amount after gelatinization. We have examined a few dozen Korean archaeological bone samples for this study. Well-preserved bone samples are found to be physically dense. The range of C/N ratios of Korean raw bone samples ranged from 3.4 to 74. We found that the C/N ratios of degraded raw bone samples can be used to determine whether 14C samples are acceptable for normal pretreatment processing and eventual dating. The results of this study support that even if the C/N ratio of a degraded raw bone sample is 11, extraction of collagen for bone dating is feasible by a carefully designed ultrafiltration process. Our preliminary 14C dating results of a depth profile of Gunang-gul Cave, an archaeological site in Danyang, Korea, indicate that this site has been either geologically or anthropologically disturbed in the past, with 14C ages ranging from 28,910 ± 200 to 48,090 ± 1050 yr BP. The C/N ratios of the collagen samples of Gunang-gul were determined to be 3.2-3.6. Our study establishes a new guide for the pretreatment of degraded bone samples such as those collected in Korea for 14C dating.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)129-135
Number of pages7
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2011

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Archaeology
  • General Earth and Planetary Sciences


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