C14 and calibration resources#

There are some interesting websites to learn about radiocarbon calibration and related topics. Some of them have been useful during the development of this software.

Other software#

  • OxCal is developed by the Oxford Radiocarbon Accelerator Unit: it’s by far the most used calibration program

  • CALIB is a radiocarbon calibration program. A command-line Linux version is available (non-free software, but works well)

  • BCal is an on-line Bayesian radiocarbon calibration tool hosted by the Department of Probability and Statistics at the University of Sheffield

  • ChronoModel is an open source application developed at CNRS for constructing chronologies in archaeology in combining Events, Phases and temporal constraints

  • the rcarbon open source package for R enables calibration and analysis of radiocarbon dates and includes functions not only for basic calibration, uncalibration, and plotting of one or more dates, but also a statistical framework for building demographic and related longitudinal inferences from aggregate radiocarbon date lists

  • the BChron open source package for R enables quick calibration of radiocarbon dates under various calibration curves (including user generated ones), age-depth modelling, Relative Sea Level Rate Estimation, and Non-Parametric Phase Modelling

Reference websites#

  • Oxford Radiocarbon Accelerator Unit contains a detailed explanation of how to use C14 datings and how calibration works

  • Radiocarbon is the main international journal of record for research articles and date lists relevant to 14C and other radioisotopes and techniques used in archaeological, geophysical, oceanographic, and related dating techniques

  • radiocarbon WEB-info provides online information concerning the radiocarbon dating method

Calibration curves#

Calibration curves are released in the public domain and can be downloaded in their native format, a slightly customised CSV, from the IntCal website.

Please note that IOSACal already includes the calibration curves listed below:

  • IntCal20

  • Marine20

  • ShCal20

  • IntCal13

  • Marine13

  • ShCal13

  • IntCal09

  • Marine09

  • IntCal04

  • Marine04

  • ShCal04

  • IntCal98

  • Marine98

IntCal20 and the associated Marine20 and ShCal20 curves are the latest calibration curves. Older calibration curves are useful to reproduce calibration results found in published literature.

This is a short list of the published literature for the IntCal calibration data:

  • Heaton, T. J. et al. (2020) ‘MARINE20—THE MARINE RADIOCARBON AGE CALIBRATION CURVE (0–55,000 CAL BP)’, Radiocarbon, pp. 1–42. doi: 10.1017/RDC.2020.68.

  • Hogg, A. G. et al. (2013) ‘SHCal13 Southern Hemisphere Calibration, 0–50,000 Years cal BP’, Radiocarbon, 55(4), pp. 1889–1903.

  • Hogg, A. G. et al. (2020) ‘SHCal20 SOUTHERN HEMISPHERE CALIBRATION, 0–55,000 YEARS CAL BP’, Radiocarbon, pp. 1–20. doi: 10.1017/RDC.2020.59.

  • Hughen, K. A. et al. (2004) ‘Marine04 marine radiocarbon age calibration, 0-26 cal kyr BP.’, Radiocarbon, 46(3), pp. 1059–1086.

  • McCormac, F. G. et al. (2004) ‘SHCal04 Southern Hemisphere calibration, 0-11.0 cal kyr BP.’, Radiocarbon, 46(3), pp. 1087–1092.

  • Reimer, P. J. et al. (2004) ‘IntCal04 terrestrial radiocarbon age calibration, 0-26 cal kyr BP.’, Radiocarbon, 46(3), pp. 1029–1058.

  • Reimer, P. J. et al. (2009) ‘IntCal09 and Marine09 Radiocarbon Age Calibration Curves, 0-50,000 Years cal BP’, Radiocarbon, 51(4), pp. 1111–1150.

  • Reimer, P. J. et al. (2013) ‘IntCal13 and Marine13 Radiocarbon Age Calibration Curves 0–50,000 Years cal BP’, Radiocarbon, 55(4), pp. 1869–1887.

  • Reimer, P. J. et al. (2020) ‘THE INTCAL20 NORTHERN HEMISPHERE RADIOCARBON AGE CALIBRATION CURVE (0–55 CAL kBP)’, Radiocarbon, pp. 1–33. doi: 10.1017/RDC.2020.41.

Radiocarbon databases#

There are a few databases of radiocarbon dates that are available as open data, and can be easily downloaded as CSV files for further processing.

Both databases are useful to experiment with many dates and apart from their specific research aims and spatio-temporal coordinates, they are incredibly useful as a learning resource.

Many more datasets are available through the c14bazAAR package for R.

Other databases are usually released under restrictive license terms or unavailable to the public.