Projects Detail

OSL dating of archaeological key-sites in the Western Mediterranean

The project focuses on selected archaeological key sections at Monte Iato, Western Sicily, and the archaeological site of S’Urachi, Sardinia. At both sites a wealth of archaeological data exist allowing for detailed insights into the colonial and cultural interactions that occurred between the indigenous populations and the newl arriving colonial settlers. Yet, both sites suffer from the same geochronological problem and a poor understanding of the human-environmental interrelations that occurred around that time. Firstly, this colonial contact period is blurred by the so-called Hallstatt 14C plateau, i.e. a methodological shortfall of the radiocarbon calibration procedure resulting in severe dating uncertainties during the first millennia B.C. Secondly, environmental and ecological changes that occurred at the transition from the Bronze Age into the Classical Antiquity and thereafter are still under-researched and well-dated paleoenvironmental and paleoclimatic proxy data are sparse. The poor geochronological resolution and the insufficient quality of existing paleoenvironmental data hamper us from an in-depth understanding of the tempo and mode of cultural changes and societal transitions and concomitant paleoecological changes and preclude model testing.  

This PhD project applies optically stimulated luminescence (OSL) dating of single grains of quartz and infrared stimulated luminescence (IRSL) dating of pottery shreds to selected archaeological key layers at Monte Iato and S´Urachi. This state-of-the-art luminescence techniques will be combined with a micromorphological (i.e. micro-contextual) approach to attain highly precise and accurate luminescence chronologies in order to resolve the Hallstatt 14C plateau.

PhD candidate: Elena Tomasi
Supervisor: Michael Meyer
Co-supervisor: Erich Kistler (U. Innsbruck; Dept. of Archaeologies)
Collaborators: Peter Van Dommelen (Brown U., USA); Cristiano Nicosia, (Dept. of Geosciences, Padova U., Italy);  Erich Draganits (Dept. of Geology, U. Vienna, Austria)