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Dating mortar

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Although radiocarbon dating is usually applied to organic remains, recent work shows that it can also reveal the age of some inorganic building materials?

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The usual goal of archaeological excavations is to pinpoint the chronology of the site investigated.Mortars are typically made from a mixture of sand, a binder, and water.The most common binder since the early 20th century is Portland cement but the ancient binder lime mortar is still used in some new construction.After all, many sites and remains—in caves, in deserts, on the sea floor—require no excavation, but all must be dated.When archaeologists of the future write the history of their discipline, the second half of the 20th century will stand out for the development of many scientific methods for ascertaining the age of artifacts.According to Roman Ghirshman, the first evidence of humans using a form of mortar was at the Mehrgarh of Baluchistan in Pakistan, built of sun-dried bricks in 6500 BCE.

The ancient sites of Harappan civilization of third millennium BCE are built with kiln-fired bricks and a gypsum mortar.

Lime and gypsum in the form of plaster of Paris are used particularly in the repair and repointing of buildings and structures because it is important the repair materials are similar to the original materials: The type and ratio of the repair mortar is determined by a mortar analysis.

There are several types of cement mortars and additives. Because of a lack of stone and an abundance of clay, Babylonian constructions were of baked brick, using lime or pitch for mortar.

The construction history of the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Modena (Italy) is still controversial and represents a challenging case study for the application of absolute dating methodologies for different reasons.

From the point of view of C dating, for example, given the high percentage of carbonate aggregates composing these samples, Modena mortars represent an experimental test particularly indicative of exogenous carbon sources suppression ensuring methodology accuracy.

This paper discusses the results obtained by OSL dating (blue diode stimulation) on the polymineral fine grain phase, enriched in quartz, extracted from lime mortar samples collected from different sites.