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Durham University

Department of Archaeology


Publication details for Dr Andrew R Millard

Millard, A. R. & Hedges, R. E. M. (1995). The role of the environment in uranium uptake by buried bone. Journal of Archaeological Science 22: 239-250.

Author(s) from Durham


Previous studies by a number of workers have shown that uranium is inhomogeneously distributed in excavated bones. It has been suggested that the higher concentrations of uranium found towards the outside of some bones may indicate that the uranium has been taken up by a diffusion process. This paper briefly outlines a quantitative model of uranium uptake by diffusion and chemical reaction, and the measurement of uranium distributions in a number of samples. The relationship of these distributions to environmental factors and to other diagenetic changes is explored, and comparisons made between them and the model. Finally the implications of these results for the uranium series dating of bones are considered, and the way forward in modelling uranium uptake suggested.