Anno Accademico 2023/2024

  • Docente: Stefano Benazzi
  • Crediti formativi: 10
  • SSD: BIO/08
  • Lingua di insegnamento: Inglese
  • Moduli: Stefano Benazzi (Modulo 1) Sahra Talamo (Modulo 2)
  • Modalità didattica: Convenzionale - Lezioni in presenza (Modulo 1) Convenzionale - Lezioni in presenza (Modulo 2)
  • Campus: Ravenna
  • Corso: Laurea Magistrale in Science for the Conservation-Restoration of Cultural Heritage (cod. 8537)

Conoscenze e abilità da conseguire

Module 1: The course aims to provide the knowledge and technical-scientific skills necessary for 3D data acquisition and reconstruction of human skeleton and mummified remains retrieved from archaeological contexts, in order to create 3D digital models useful for further specific analysis, 3D printing, enhancement and exhibition. At the end of the course, students will learn to use software for post-processing surface data and optimizing digital models for 3D printing, and they will learn principles for the digital reconstruction of osteoarchaeological materials. Module 2: The course aims to provide the scientific skills to understand the radiocarbon ‘clock’ (14C) and the expertise to interpret and build chronologies of archaeological sites, which are objects of our cultural heritage. At the end of the course, the students will have acquired basic knowledge of accurate calibration of the radiocarbon time scale (IntCal), reliable extraction of collagen from prehistoric bones and accurate AMS radiocarbon results. Moreover, they will be able to contextualize the series of events in an archeological site using the Bayesian Model in the OxCal program.


Module 1:

Introduction to 3D scanning: technologies and working principles; contact and non-contact scanning systems, reflective and transmissive systems; how to choose the 3D acquisition tool, technical considerations and device characteristics; scan protocol. Examples of 3D scans and digital reconstructions.

Introduction to post processing surface data: Geomagic Design X software workflow, set parameters and tools, import point clouds, point clouds alignment, noise cleaning, mesh generation; import meshes, healing defects, 3D model construction, save data, save project, export data; mesh editor, creating cutting planes, sections, curves and measurements (linear, angular, area and volume) of the digital models. Digital reconstruction of human skeletal remains and final optimization of the meshes for 3D printing. 

Module 2:

The recent developments in radiocarbon calibration, based on internationally agreed calibration curve (IntCal) spanning back to 50,000 cal BP (calibrated ages Before Present), will be discussed in the introductory section of this module together with the basis of radiocarbon (2-7).

The methodological section of this module will focus on various experiments undertaken to establish an optimal procedure for extracting collagen from bone samples for radiocarbon dating (8-13). The main objectives of these experiments were to remove contamination from the organic bone fractions, which generally results in younger ages, and to avoid the incorporation of exogenous carbon in the laboratory through careful cleaning of the equipment. They will learn how to recognize a good quality collagen using carbon/nitrogen ration and stable isotope analysis (14-16).

The final part will be devoted to the AMS radiocarbon determinations (17, 18) together with the chronological interpretation of various archeological sites (19-25) in order to enable the students to properly read and interpret different scenarios regarding the expansion of our species, as well as the climatic episodes.


Module 1:

- Notes from the lessons

- Scientific papers uploaded in the Virtuale platform

- A scientific article on a topic of the course chosen by the student


- Weber GW, Bookstein FL. Virtual Anthropology - A Guide to a New Interdisciplinary Field. Springer Verlag, Wien, New York, 2011.

- Nikita E (2017). Osteoarchaeology: A Guide to the Macroscopic Study of Human Skeletal Remains. Elsevier Science Publishing Co Inc.

- Eline M. J. Schotsmans, Nicholas Márquez‐Grant, Shari L. Forbes (editors, 2017). Taphonomy of Human Remains: Forensic Analysis of the Dead and the Depositional Environment. John Wiley & Sons Ltd.



Module 2

  • P. J. Reimer et al., INTCAL04 terrestrial radiocarbon age calibration, 0–26 cal kyr BP. Radiocarbon 46, 1029–1058 (2004).
  • P. J. Reimer et al., IntCal09 and Marine09 radiocarbon age calibration curves, 0 – 50 cal kBP. Radiocarbon 51, 1111-1150 (2009).
  • P. J. Reimer et al., IntCal13 and Marine13 Radiocarbon Age Calibration Curves 0–50,000 Years cal BP. Radiocarbon 55, 1869-1887 (2013).
  • R. Longin, New method of collagen extraction for radiocarbon dating. Nature 230, 241-242 (1971).
  • T. F. G. Higham, R. M. Jacobi, C. Bronk Ramsey, AMS radiocarbon dating of ancient bone using ultrafiltration. Radiocarbon 48, 179-195 (2006).
  • F. Brock, C. Bronk Ramsey, T. Higham, Quality assurance of ultrafiltered bone dating. Radiocarbon 49, 187–192 (2007).


  • E. A. Schuur, E. Druffel, S. E. Trumbore, Radiocarbon and Climate Change: Mechanisms, Applications and Laboratory Techniques.(Springer, 2016).
  • B. Kromer et al., Late Glacial 14C ages from a floating 1382-ring pine chronology. Radiocarbon 46, 1203-1209 (2004).
  • F. Adolphi et al., Radiocarbon calibration uncertainties during the last deglaciation: Insights from new floating tree-ring chronologies. Quaternary Science Reviews 170, 98-108 (2017).
  • S. Talamo, K. A. Hughen, B. Kromer, P. J. Reimer, Debates over Palaeolithic chronology – the reliability of 14C is confirmed. Journal of Archaeological Science 39, 2464-2467 (2012).
  • T. A. Brown, D. E. Nelson, J. S. Vogel, J. R. Southon, Improved Collagen Extraction by modified Longin method. Radiocarbon 30, 171-177 (1988).
  • S. Talamo, M. Richards, A comparison of bone pretreatment methods for AMS dating of samples >30, 000 BP. Radiocarbon 53, 443-449 (2011).
  • F. Brock, V. Geoghegan, B. Thomas, K. Jurkschat, T. F. G. Higham, Analysis of Bone "Collagen" Extraction Products for Radiocarbon Dating. Radiocarbon 55, 445-463 (2013).
  • M. J. DeNiro, Postmortem preservation and alteration of in vivo bone collagen isotope ratios in relation to palaeodietary reconstruction. Nature 317, 806-809 (1985).
  • S. H. Ambrose, Preparation and Characterization of Bone and Tooth Collagen for Isotopic Analysis. Journal of Archaeological Science 17, 431-451 (1990).
  • G. J. van Klinken, Bone Collagen Quality Indicators for Palaeodietary and Radiocarbon Measurements. Journal of Archaeological Science 26, 687-695 (1999).
  • B. Kromer, S. Lindauer, H.-A. Synal, L. Wacker, MAMS – A new AMS facility at the Curt-Engelhorn-Centre for Achaeometry, Mannheim, Germany. Nuclear Instruments and Methods in Physics Research Section B: Beam Interactions with Materials and Atoms 294, 11-13 (2013).
  • H. Fewlass et al., Size Matters: Radiocarbon Dates of <200 µg Ancient Collagen Samples with AixMICADAS and its Gas Ion Source. Radiocarbon, 1-15 (2017).
  • F. Welker et al., Palaeoproteomic evidence identifies archaic hominins associated with the Châtelperronian at the Grotte du Renne. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 113, 11162-11167 (2016).
  • S. Talamo et al., The Radiocarbon Approach to Neanderthals in a Carnivore Den Site: a Well-Defined Chronology for Teixoneres Cave (Moià, Barcelona, Spain). Radiocarbon 58, 247-289 (2016).
  • M. A. Mannino et al., Climate-driven environmental changes around 8,200 years ago favoured increases in cetacean strandings and Mediterranean hunter-gatherers exploited them. Scientific Reports 5, 16288 (2015).
  • S. Benazzi et al., The makers of the Protoaurignacian and implications for Neandertal extinction. Science 348, 793-796 (2015).
  • S. Talamo, M. Soressi, M. Roussel, M. Richards, J.-J. Hublin, A radiocarbon chronology for the complete Middle to Upper Palaeolithic transitional sequence of Les Cottés (France). Journal of Archaeological Science 39, 175-183 (2012).
  • S. P. McPherron et al., Radiocarbon dates for the late Middle Palaeolithic at Pech de l'Azé IV, France. Journal of Archaeological Science 39, 3436-3442 (2012).
  • J.-J. Hublin et al., Radiocarbon dates from the Grotte du Renne and Saint-Césaire support a Neandertal origin for the Châtelperronian. PNAS 109, 18743-18748 (2012).

Metodi didattici

Module 1: The course consists of frontal lectures related to the topics of the programme that can be supplemented by seminars on specific topics. During the course PowerPoint presentations will be used, which will be supplied to the students by means of dedicated online platforms. Finally, students will have the opportunity to undertake practical laboratory exercises, involving the application of osteological techniques to materials retrieved from archaeological excavations, and the analysis and interpretation of data using suitable computer programs.

Module 2:

The course consists of frontal lectures related to the topics of the programme that can be supplemented by seminars on specific topics. During the course PowerPoint presentations will be used, which will be supplied to the students by means of dedicated online platforms.

In the first part, the radiocarbon method is outlined. The present state of the calibration of the radiocarbon time scale is presented focusing on the recent extension and consolidation back to 50,000 years ago. An overview of measurement techniques is given, with an emphasis on AMS as the main radiocarbon measurement technique in use today.

The focus of the second part is how to obtain the most reliable ages from bone samples from archaeological sites. Bone from archaeological context is the preferred material to obtain dates, especially when compared to charcoal, but it presents challenges due to its open structure. In the past decade, it has become apparent that the traditional pretreatment methods are insufficient for very old bone samples, because they may not be capable of removing modern contamination to a satisfactory level. The quantitative aspect of what the addition of a level of modern contaminant 14C contribution would be will be shown and development of new techniques including the use of ultrafiltration will be discussed. The protocol of lab procedures is presented in detail.

Last but not least, the module will be devoted to discussing the chronology of various archeological sites, using Oxcal program in Internet.


To attend the practical part students are required to attend Module 1 and 2 in e- learning mode [https://www.unibo.it/it/servizi-e-opportunita/salute-e-assistenza/salute-e-sicurezza/sicurezza-e-salute-nei-luoghi-di-studio-e-tirocinio]

Modalità di verifica e valutazione dell'apprendimento

Students must take an oral or written exam for each of the three modules. The final vote is based on the scientific and methodological knowledge of the student on the arguments discussed during the three exams. Moreover, correct use of language, coupled with critical examination of the covered topics and interdisciplinary linkage, will be also evaluated.

Students not attending. The program of the course is the same for both students attending and not attending. Owing to the nature of the course, frequency of the lessons is strongly recommended. However, students who for valid reasons cannot attend the course are invited to contact the teachers, during the office hours, for the suggestion of potential supplementary texts.

Strumenti a supporto della didattica

Module 1: Lectures will be given with the assistance of traditional supports, as well as slide and computer projections. Laboratory exercises will be carried out with suitable materials and instruments.

Module 2:

Lectures will be given with the assistance of traditional supports, as well as slide and computer projections. It should be an internet connection in order to have access to the OxCal online program:



Orario di ricevimento

Consulta il sito web di Stefano Benazzi

Consulta il sito web di Sahra Talamo


Istruzione di qualità

L'insegnamento contribuisce al perseguimento degli Obiettivi di Sviluppo Sostenibile dell'Agenda 2030 dell'ONU.