Dating WF16: exploring the chronology of a Pre-Pottery Neolithic A settlement in the Southern Levant

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Wicks, Karen ; Finlayson, B. ; Maricevic, Darko ; Smith, S. ; Jenkins, E. ; Mithen, Steve (2016)

A pre-requisite for understanding the transition to the Neolithic in the Levant is the establishment of a robust chronology, most notably for the late Epi-Palaeolithic and Pre-Pottery Neolithic A (PPNA) periods. In this contribution we undertake a dating analysis of the Pre-Pottery Neolithic site of WF16, southern Jordan, drawing on a sample of 46 AMS 14C dates. We utilise Bayesian methods to quantify an old wood effect to provide an offset that we factor into chronological models for a number of individual structures at WF16 and for the settlement as a whole. In doing so we address the influence of slope variations in the calibration curve and expose the significance of sediment and sample redeposition within sites of this nature. We conclude that for the excavated deposits at WF16 human activity is likely to have started by c. 11.84 ka cal bp and lasted for at least c. 1590 years, ceasing by c. 10.24 ka cal bp. This is marked by a particularly intensive period of activity lasting for c. 350 years centred on 11.25 ka cal bp followed by less intensive activity lasting a further c. 880 years. The study reveals the potential of WF16 as a laboratory to explore methodological issues concerning 14C dating of early Neolithic sites in arid, erosional environments.
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