The potential of cryptotephra and OSL dating for refining the chronology of open-air archaeological windblown sand sites: A case study from Mirkowice 33, northwest Poland

Rupert Housley, Alison MacLeod, Simon Armitage, Jacek Kabacinski, Clive Gamble

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The discovery of a cryptotephra (nonvisible volcanic horizon) in a windblown sand archaeological site in Poland highlights how luminescence and tephrostratigraphy may combine to better refine the chronology of such sites. In this study we identify a cryptotephra horizon which on the basis of major and
minor element geochemistry and an OSL age of 2.3 0.1 ka is correlated to the Glen Garry tephra. The different methodological strengths of OSL and tephrostratigraphy may be harnessed to counter the limitations of a single approach to produce a more secure chronology. Although in this study the tephra deposition event is shown to post-date the archaeological activity, the methodological approach is clearly demonstrated. Further investigations will reveal if cryptotephra layers are commonly preserved in such environmental settings. If this is so then future applications of this approach may prove to be more widely applicable.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)99-108
Number of pages10
JournalQuaternary Geochronology
Early online date3 Dec 2013
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2014


  • Aeolian sand activity
  • Late Palaeolithic
  • Hamburgian
  • Tephrostratigraphy
  • Askja eruptions
  • optically stimulated luminescence;

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