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Musée Barrois reliquary: AMS radiocarbon dating results 

Musée Barrois, Bar-le-Duc, France

Accession number 850.20.38

front, side and back views of wooden figure 

The reliquary is carved from the Guaiacum sp. Two 14C samples were taken from the inner and outer edges of this hollow carving, roughly 25mm apart and at the back of the figure. This was done to see whether it was possible to fine-tune the growth rate of what was expected to be a slow growing wood (Guaiacum sp.).


Graph showing the dating results after modelling on estimated growth rates for Guaiacum sp.

The samples returned overlapping dates: AD 1027-1167 and AD 1039-1208, which implies that the selected tree was not as slow growing as originally assumed. When we modelled the dates (based on a growth rate model consisting entirely of Guaiacum sculptures with multiple dates and indicating a 4-14 year growth per 1cm of wood), it is possible to tighten the dates for the sculpture to AD 1052-1176. 

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