Different researchers have applied a variety of absolute dating methods directly to petroglyphs or to sediments covering them, including AMS (accelerator mass spectrometry) radiocarbon, cation ratio, amino acid racemization, OSL (optically stimulated luminescence), lichenometry, micro-erosion and micro-stratification analysis of patina. These techniques have yielded mixed results in terms of reliability and feasibility, but, in any case, none has been applied to date in Saudi Arabia.
C dating in research on calcium oxalate crusts associated with open air rock art of the Iberian Peninsula.
In this paper we present two dates linked with three eye-idol pictographs at Abrigo de los Oculados (Henarejos, Cuenca, Spain).
These could then be dated using accelerator mass spectrometry (AMS) radiocarbon dating.
The two-phase research project entailed collecting tiny (less than a millimetre squared) quantities of pigment from the rock painting and then analysing these samples to determine which art should be sampled for AMS radiocarbon dating.
Radiocarbon ages for these motifs agree with the expected iconography-based archaeological chronology.
Such oxalate dates could provide an independent basis for evaluating chronological theories for post-Palaeolithic sites, designated in the UNESCO World Heritage List as Rock Art of the Mediterranean Basin on the Iberian Peninsula.► Two samples from a site with prehistoric rock art have been radiocarbon dated.
The success of this project is based on very careful chemical characterisation of the composition of the paint and contaminants on the rock.
New chemical techniques were developed to remove contaminants from small samples of paint.
The samples that contained the most carbon-black (and thus most likely to reveal dates) were then radiocarbon dated.
The dates reported in this study form the biggest set of direct dates on rock art in South Africa and the only direct dates ever obtained in Botswana and Lesotho.
► Samples were collected from accretionary crusts of calcium oxalate.