The next step after obtaining your radiocarbon dates is often that of interpreting them; of putting your site into a chronological framework. This does not only involve calibration of your dates. In many cases additional information can be included in order to constrain your ages, for example imposing stratigraphical ordering of dated levels in an archaeological or palaeoenvironmental site.
Over the past decades several software packages have been developed dedicated to age-modelling. For example, clam (Blaauw 2010) uses basic statistical models such as linear interpolation and smooth splines to draw age-depth curves through dated depths, taking into account dating uncertainties through random sampling of the dates. Bayesian age-models such as Bacon use more sophisticated approaches to constrain the models, including limits on accumulation rate and its variability.
If you require help constructing age-models for your site(s), Dr Maarten Blaauw, the primary author of the software clam and Bacon, can offer advice. Please contact Maarten at firstname.lastname@example.org to discuss options.
Archaeological Bayesian modeling
Prior knowledge of phases and stratigraphy can be included along with dating evidence in Bayesian models to help constrain the age and time span of phases, gaps, etc. The program OxCal (Bronk Ramsey 2009) was designed for this purpose and is widely used in archaeology.
If you require help constructing and running OxCal age-models for your site(s), Dr Cormac McSparron from the Centre for Archaeological Fieldwork has extensive experience in the field and can build and run the models for you. Please contact Cormac at email@example.com to discuss options.
- Blaauw, M., 2010. Methods and code for 'classical' age-modelling of radiocarbon sequences. Quaternary Geochronology 5, 512-518
- Blaauw, M., Christen, J.A., 2011. Flexible paleoclimate age-depth models using an autoregressive gamma process. Bayesian Analysis 6, 457-474
- Bronk Ramsey C. 2009. Bayesian analysis of radiocarbon dates. Radiocarbon 55(1):337-60.