Bayesian analysis of high-precision ams 14C dates from a prehistoric Mexican shellmound

Douglas J. Kennett, Brendan J. Culleton, Barbara Voorhies, John R. Southon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

35 Scopus citations


We establish a precision accelerator mass spectrometry (AMS) radiocarbon chronology for the Archaic period Tlacuachero shellmound (Chiapas, Mexico) within a Bayesian statistical framework. Carbonized twig samples were sequentially selected from well-defined stratigraphic contexts based on iterative improvements to a probabilistic chronological model. Analytical error for these measurements is ±15 to 20 14C yr. This greater precision and the absence of stratigraphic reversals eclipses previous 14C work at the site. Based on this, we establish a chronological framework for a sequence of 3 clay floors dating to between 4930 and 4270 cal BP and determine that the bedded shell deposits that formed the mound accumulated rapidly during 2 episodes: a lower 2-m section below the floors that accumulated over a 0-150 cal yr period at 5050-4875 cal BP and, an upper 3.5-m section above the floors that accumulated over a 0-80 cal yr period at 4380-4230 cal BP.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)245-259
Number of pages15
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2011

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Archaeology
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences(all)


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