Expanding Collaborative Opportunities for High Resolution AMS 14C Research in Archaeology

Project: Research project

Project Details


With National Science Foundation (NSF) support, Dr. Douglas Kennett and his colleagues at The Pennsylvania State University (PSU) will expand radiocarbon dating capabilities to support archaeological applications and student training that articulate with a developing high-resolution Accelerator Mass Spectrometry (AMS) radiocarbon facility on campus (PSU-AMS). Archaeological studies of past human behaviors and environment interactions are providing scientists with critical information on how to sustain favorable conditions for future humanity by understanding peoples' past impacts and adaptations. Next-generation radiocarbon technologies are revolutionizing research capabilities to sharply focus the lens into the past to clarify and enhance this understanding. Funds from NSF will be used to improve existing sample preparation infrastructure and techniques for archaeological materials (e.g., bone, shell, charcoal) and develop new methods to expand capabilities and integrate archaeological research more effectively with the environmental sciences.

AMS radiocarbon facilities are limited in the US and research capabilities in archaeology and environmental sciences are being eclipsed by the proliferation of facilities abroad, particularly regarding access to high precision facilities. The emphasis of the PSU-AMS facility on human-earth interaction will have a transformative impact on archaeological research. This AMS radiocarbon initiative will foster the development of inter-disciplinary archaeological research and greater articulation with the earth and environmental sciences. This approach is essential for archaeologists to contribute to debates about the long-term effects of environmental change on populations into the future.

Training the next generation of interdisciplinary archaeological researchers in AMS radiocarbon technology and interpretation is also a key aspect of addressing long-term effects of environmental change. NSF funds will be used to develop a visiting scholar program and a summer short course that will serve as prototypes for annual programs moving into the future. Collaborative research efforts will be expanded and existing PSU programs will be used to attract individuals from under-represented groups from nearby urban areas. These programs will provide a unique educational opportunity that is rare given the small number of AMS facilities in the US. The proposed project will facilitate engagement between faculty and students at PSU that will benefit greatly from visiting scholars and participants in the summer short course.

Effective start/end date7/1/146/30/17


  • National Science Foundation: $207,879.00


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