AustArch1: A database of 14C and luminescence ages from archaeological sites in the Australian arid zone

05th May 2013

Alan N. Williams, Mike S. Smith, Chris S.M. Turney and Matt L. Cupper

AustArch1 is a Microsoft® Excel® database listing radiocarbon, luminescence and uranium series ages from archaeological sites in the Australian arid zone. It was originally compiled to support analysis of time-series trends by the authors (Smith et al. 2008; Williams et al. 2008) and is now available online at http://palaeoworks.anu.edu.au/databases.html. The database is intended as a resource for archaeologists working in the arid zone. It provides a ready checklist of dated sites as well as a comprehensive listing of radiocarbon, luminescence and uranium series age determinations, and in conjunction with calibration programs such as OxCal or Calib, can be used to generate radiocarbon density plots for analysis of trends in occupation. Research in the arid zone has grown over the past decade, making this central listing of chronometric data particularly relevant, and we expect that AustArch1 will become a useful tool for both consultant and academic archaeologists.

Format: AustArch1 is a Microsoft® Excel® file, listing ages (rows) by site, location and biogeographic region. The latter are based on the Interim Biogeographic Regionalisation of Australia (IBRA) 6.1 divisions (Thackway and Cresswell 1995). Longitude and latitude are compiled from published sources, or estimated from locality maps. All 14C ages are given as conventional (uncalibrated) ages. The file includes a bibliography of published and unpublished sources for 14C, TL/OSL and U/Th data.

Geographic Scope: AustArch1 covers the entire arid zone, including the following IBRA regions: BHC, BRT, CAR, CHC, COO, CR, DMR, FIN, FLB (northern section only), GAS, GAW, GD, GS (Shark Bay area only), GSD, GVD, HAM, LSD, MAC, MGD, ML, MUR, NUL, PIL, SSD, STP, TAN, YAL (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Interim_Biogeographic_Regionalisation_for_Australia). The Murray-Darling Basin (MDB) is included for comparison.

Coverage: AustArch1 is currently the most comprehensive listing of radiocarbon ages for the Australian arid zone. We estimate that the database includes >97 % of available 14C ages – totalling 971 ages from 286 sites – derived from published and unpublished research over the past 40 years. In addition to radiocarbon data, there are 115 TL/OSL or U/Th ages available for arid zone sites (97 dating occupation sediments or hearths). Major gaps in coverage are the Great Victoria Desert, Nullarbor Plain, TanamiDesert and the northern (sub-tropical) margins of the arid zone, reflecting the paucity of archaeological work in these areas. We have not attempted to audit the database for technical and archaeological validity of the ages, preferring to leave this to users.

Updates and Errors: We intend to maintain and periodically update the database and would appreciate hearing of new 14C, TL/OSL or U/Th results as they become available. We also ask users to notify us of any errors (on either u4077044@anu.edu.au or m.smith@nma.gov.au).

Acknowledgements: AustArch1 incorporates material from published or private databases by Matt Cupper, Fiona Hook, Mike Smith, Sean Ulm and Peter Veth. We thank colleagues who have supplied unpublished data: Neale Draper, Giles Hamm, Fiona Hook, Roger Luebbers, June Ross and Esmee Webb.

Click to download a copy of AustArch1.

References

Smith, M.A., A.N. Williams, C.S.M. Turney and M.L. M.L. Cupper 2008 Human-environment interactions in Australian drylands: Exploratory time-series analysis of archaeological records. The Holocene 18(3):397-409.

Thackway, R. and I.D. Cresswell (eds) 1995 An Interim Biogeographic Regionalisation for Australia: A Framework for Establishing the National System of Reserves. Canberra: Australian Nature Conservation Agency.

Williams, A.N., C.M. Santoro, M.A. Smith and C. Latorre in press The impact of ENSO in the Atacama Desert and Australian arid zone: Exploratory time-series analysis of archaeological records. Chungara: Revista de Antropología Chilena 40.

Alan N. Williams, Mike S. Smith, Chris S.M. Turney and Matt L. Cupper
AustArch1: A database of 14C and luminescence ages from archaeological sites in the Australian arid zone
June 2008
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