Cation-ratio dating of petroglyphs using PIXE

David S. Whitley, Ronald Dorn

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

7 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

A central problem in archaeological research has been the Chronometrie dating of petroglyphs (rock engravings). Recent improvements in the understanding of the chemistry of rock varnish (or patina) that develops on rock surfaces in arid regions has resulted in the development of a calibrated dating technique, cation-ratio (CR) dating. This is based on calibrating chemical changes in minor and major trace elements in the varnish over time. PIXE is used to determine the bulk chemical constituents of small samples of varnish mechanically removed from within petroglyphs. Recent applications in western North America have yielded petroglyph dates of great importance in understanding the origins of art and the antiquity of human settlement in the western hemisphere. In particular the CR dates on petroglyphs suggest that humans moved into the New World about 10 K yrs earlier than previously believed, and that the making of petroglyphs was one of the most ancient and long-lived cultural traditions in aboriginal North America.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)410-414
Number of pages5
JournalNuclear Inst. and Methods in Physics Research, B
Volume35
Issue number3-4
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 2 1988

Fingerprint

varnishes
Varnish
dating
Cations
Positive ions
Rocks
rocks
cations
Western hemisphere
antiquities
engraving
Geochronology
Arid regions
arts
Trace Elements
calibrating
Trace elements
trace elements
chemistry

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surfaces, Coatings and Films
  • Instrumentation
  • Surfaces and Interfaces

Cite this

Cation-ratio dating of petroglyphs using PIXE. / Whitley, David S.; Dorn, Ronald.

In: Nuclear Inst. and Methods in Physics Research, B, Vol. 35, No. 3-4, 02.12.1988, p. 410-414.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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