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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Redefining the Working Assumptions of Obsidian Hydration Dating


Recent experimental work has shown that the rate of hydration is significantly influenced by the amount of intrinsic water (0H-) contained within the unweathered obsidian. A value for the intrinsic water concentration may be obtained through a nondestructive measurement of glass density, thereby permitting obsidian hydration rates to be determined for individual artifacts. As a result of these discoveries, many of the assumptions used in the normal application of obsidian hydration dating are now in need of revision. This article presents a revised set of working assumptions and procedures for implementation of the obsidian dating method and evaluates the ability of calibrations to produce chronometric dates that correspond with radiocarbon assays.

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