Radiocarbon Dating


The Radiocarbon technique (Carbon-14) is today the most accurate science-based technique with applications to Archaeology, Paleontology, Paleoenvironment, Paleogeography etc. It has already undergone 60 years of research and development (Aiteken 1990; Taylor et al 1994; Taylor and Aitken 1997; Wagner 1999; Maniatis 2013), both in the processing and measurement of samples and in the calibration (conversion of ages to calendar ages). The latter has gone continuous upgrades with the most recent one released in 2020 (Reimer et al 2020). In addition, the recent introduction of Bayesian statistics (Ramsey 2009 and 2010) has revolutionized dating improving the level of accuracy drastically. For a description of the principle of the technique one can visit the following sites: 

Radiocarbon Dating at NCSR DEMOKRITOS

The Radiocarbon Laboratory of NCSR "Demokritos" was set up in1986 and has been through various stages of upgrading. It has so far dated several thousands of samples of all kinds from almost everywhere in Greece providing an absolute framework for the Aegean Chronology on which cultural phases can be compared, sequenced and synchronised. 

Examples of research projects carried out by the laboratory are: 

  1. The Earliest Farmers in Europe. Dating of the earliest Neolithic settlements in Greece”. Supported by the Institute for the Aegean Prehistory (INSTAP) (Maniatis 2014; Reingruber et al 2017; Maniatis, Kotsakis and Halstead 2011; Maniatis and Adaktylou 2021).
  2. Tracing the transition from the Neolithic to the Early Bronze Age in the Aegean and the Beginning of the EBA in the Aegean” (Tsirtsoni Z. (ed) “Balkans 4000” 2016; Maniatis et al 2016; Arvaniti and Maniatis 2018). 
  3. Dating of the Major Cultural Changes in Macedonia” (Maniatis 2014)
  4.  “Dating of the organic fragment in sediments from olive-tree cultivation fields”. Program OLIVE CLIMA LIFE11 (Report submitted to Hellenic Agricultural Organization-DEMETER, 2017). 
  5. Dating of sediments from boreholes in the area of ancient Heliki”. Supported by the Smithsonian Institute, Washington (Maniatis et al 1996; Maniatis et al 1998).  
  6. Dating of the sediments from boreholes at the Xerxis Canal in Mount Athos peninsula in Chalkidiki in order to trace the canal shape and structure” (publication:  Jones et al 2000). 
  7. “Dating Monumental Olive trees in the Ionian Islands” (started in 2021: M. Martinis (coord.), Ionian University. 

The dating facilities

The Laboratory of Archaeometry uses the gas (CO2) counting technique.  Each sample is combusted and the CO2 produced is measured inside cylindrical gas proportional counters. The laboratory possesses 8 such counters, four with a capacity of 4 litres and four with 3 litres. These counters are identical to those used in the Radiocarbon Laboratory of the Institute of Environmental Physics, University of Heidelberg and were built and tested there.


Combustion procedure for converting an archaeological sample to CO2 with simultaneous removal of all other oxides

AMS dating

The laboratory collaborates with accelerator facilities abroad for AMS dating of small samples.  


The laboratory participates in international radiocarbon inter-laboratory comparisons (FIRI and VIRI) and frequently cross-checks results with other radiocarbon laboratories. This ensures reliability and accuracy. Thus, the precision obtained in the carbon-14 dates (BP) of routine samples is of the order of 25-30 years for ages up to 8,000 BP, increasing progressively to older ages. However, the final accuracy on the calendar date depends on the shape of the calibration curve at the time period to which its radiocarbon date falls. 

Note: The Laboratory of Archaeometry is assigned with the international code DEM (Demokritos).

Details for type of samples that can be dated, Sampling strategy, Sampling instructions, Amount of sample and other information can be found here (εδώ πρέπει να μπεί ένα λινκ που να οδηγεί στο Services


Aitken M.J., (1990), Science-based dating in archaeology, London, Longman 

Arvaniti, T., and Maniatis, Y., 2018, Tracing the absolute time-frame of the Early Bronze Age in the Aegean, Radiocarbon, 60(3), 751–73.

Bronk Ramsey, C., 2009, Bayesian Analysis of Radiocarbon Dates, Radiocarbon, 51(1), 337–60.

Bronk Ramsey, C., 2021, Oxcal v4.4.4 calibration program,

Jones, R.E., Isserlin, B.S., Karastathis, V., Papamarinopoulos, S.P., Syrides, G.E., Uren, J., Balatsas, I., Kapopoulos, Ch., Maniatis Y., and Facorellis, G., 2000, Exploration of the Canal of Xerxes, Northern Greece: the Role of Geophysical and other Techniques, Archaeological Prospection, 7, 147-170.

Karamitrou-Mentessidi, G., Efstratiou, N., Kozlowski, J. K., Kaczanowska, M., Maniatis, Y., Curci, A., Michalopoulou, S., Papathanasiou, and Valamoti, S. M., 2013, New evidence on the beginning of farming in Greece: the Early Neolithic settlement of Mavropigi in western Macedonia (Greece), Antiquity, 087(336).

Maniatis, Y., 2013, The method of Radiocarbon for the dating of archaeological and environmental materials (in Greek). Η μέθοδος Ραδιοάνθρακα για την χρονολόγηση αρχαιολογικών και περιβαλλοντικών υλικών», στο Γ. Γραμμένος (επιστ. επιμ.), «Μελέτες για την Προϊστορική Μακεδονία», Ηλεκτρονικό περιοδικό Προ-ιστορήματα, (issn 2241-2921), Παράρτημα 1ο, Μάρτιος (2013),

Maniatis, Y., 2014, Radiocarbon dating of the major cultural changes in Macedonia: Recent developments (in Greek with English summary), In 100 Years Research in Prehistoric Macedonia 1912-2012 Proceedings of Interantional Symposium 22-24 November 2012 Arcaheological Museum of Thessaloniki ed. (eds. Ε. Stefani, Ν. Merousis, and Α. Dimoula), Archaeological Museum of Thessaloniki, Thessaloniki.

Maniatis, Y., Kotsakis, K., Halstead, P., 2015, New radiocarbon dating of the Early Neolithic in Macedonia. Paliambela Kolindros (in Greek). Νέες ραδιοχρονολογήσεις της αρχαιότερης νεολιθικής στη Μακεδονία. Παλιάμπελα Κολινδρού”, Το Αρχαιολογικό Έργο στη Μακεδονία και στη Θράκη (ΑΕΜΘ), 25, 2011, 149-156, (2015).

Maniatis, Y., Facorellis, Y., Soter, S., Katsonopoulou D. and Kromer, B., 1996, An Attempt to Locate Archaeological Horizons with C-14 Sediment Dating: The Case of the Lost City of Ancient Eliki. Radiocarbon, 37 (3), 931-941. 

Maniatis, Y., Adaktylou, F. 2021. Revenia-Korinos: One of the Earliest Neolithic Settlements in North Greece as Evidenced by Radiocarbon Dating. Radiocarbon, 63(3), 1025-1051. doi:10.1017/RDC.2021.26

Reimer, P. J., Austin, W. E. N., Bard, E., Bayliss, A., Blackwell, P. G., Bronk Ramsey, C., Butzin, M., Cheng, H., Edwards, R. L., Friedrich, M., and et al., 2020, The IntCal20 Northern Hemisphere Radiocarbon Age Calibration Curve (0–55 cal kBP), Radiocarbon, 62(4), 725–57.

Reingruber, A., Toufexis, G., Kyparissi-Apostolika, N., Anetakis, M., Maniatis, Y. and Facorellis, Y., 2017, Neolithic Thessaly: Radiocarbon dated periods and phases, Documenta Praehistorica XLIV, 34-53.

Stuiver, M. and Polach, H.A., (1977), “Discussion: Reporting of 14C data”, Radiocarbon, 19, 355-63.

Taylor, R.E, Long, A and Kra, R. (eds), (1994), “Radiocarbon After Four Decades. An Interdisciplinary Perspective”, Springer-Verlag, NY. 

Taylor, R.E, and M.J Aitken. (eds) (1997), Chronometric dating in Archaeology. Advances in Archaeological and Museum Science, volume 2, Oxford University, England.

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