Cremated bone

AMS radiocarbon dating of cremated and non-burned bone

To perform AMS radiocarbon dating of a burnt bone, at least 2 grams of material will be needed to achieve the result. Bone samples submitted for analysis as cremated bone, must be gray and preferably almost white in color, indicating that they have been burned at >600°C. Prior to radiocarbon (14C) dating all samples are being selected and pre-treated according to the type, quantity and condition of material, and then graphitized. This is one of the most important phases in the carbon dating process, which requires highest expertise to achieve reliable and accurate result. Bone samples in Vilnius Radiocarbon laboratory are being pre-treated using exceptionally best-on-the-market chemicals and consumables and strictly following internally and internationally approved methodology according to the protocol.


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Pretreatment protocol for cremated and non-burned bone samples

Preferred sample size: 4-5 g

Minimum sample size: 2 g

The dating of cremated bones is a good alternative when bone collagen is poorly preserved. The chemical preparation of cremated bones is different from ordinary bones, because in this case the mineral part of the bone is used. After washing the samples with water and cleaning the external surface of the bone fragments, the cremated fragments are treated with 2 × 50 mL of 0.25M sodium chlorite (24 hr, 20°C) in a centrifuge tube to remove organic residues. After that, the samples are washed in ultrapure water followed by treating the samples with 2 × 50 mL 1M acetic acid (24 hr, 20°C) to remove exogenous carbonates and less well-crystallized crystallites of apatite. Finally, all the samples are washed repetitively in ultrapure water again until a transparent liquid is observed and, after decantation, oven-dried in pH=3 solution at 60°C for an overnight.

Applying the similar technique, non-burnt bones are also can be dated, if the collagen of the sample not preserved, and there is no chance to get an alternative better-preserved sample. 

Before sending the sample, we recommend to check here, how your sample’s result in the dating certificate will look.

If you need consultation regarding correct sampling – do not hesitate to call or write a message with the sample photos

Saulėtekio av. 3, LT-10257
Vilnius, Lithuania

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