SearchIntroductionAcknowledgementsNZCD Home
Database Help



The New Zealand Radiocarbon Database can be searched using the search engine link shown on the toolbar on each page of this site. The search page enables the input of a variety of different queries in a number of different fields. The fields include NZAA site number, laboratory number, site name, sample description and conservancy. In addition, it is possible to search under the site grid reference. The more information that you input, the more precise will be the search result.

The database lists the results of the search on a result form page. If there is more than 1 match for the search, the results will be listed by laboratory number only, and you can then click on the number and access the full record for that sample. If there is a single result, then it will be listed in full on the results page.

In all cases, a search using a fraction of a word or number may yield multiple records, so a search for the number 56 in the Laboratory Number field, for instance, will yield all Laboratory numbers which contain the number 56. A search for a site name containing "mouth" will result in dates from all sites containing that word. Again, precise searches will yield precise data.

Description of the fields of the database
Site name
  This refers to the name of the archaeological site from which the radiocarbon date was obtained. Sometimes, this will be a general name, such as Papamoa, and therefore might contain dates from a range of NZAA listed sites which fall under that name. In the case of Papamoa, for example, there are a number of dates which have different NZAA site numbers, which are all given the general name "Papamoa".
Site type
  There are around 43 'types' of site listed on the database which can be searched for using key words. Some examples are adze workshop, Archaic Midden, Borrow pits, Botanical, Burial, Cave habitation, Core, Court house/gaol, Gunfighter Pa, Headland pa etc etc. It is therefore possible to search for radiocarbon dates from specific types of site in New Zealand using this field.
  The map designation for the imperial map used to locate the site. It may be N,S or C.
NZMS1 Sheet
  The sheet number for the imperial map on which the site is located.
Metric Map
  Denotes the metric map number for the site from which the radiocarbon sample was obtained.
Site No
  This field denotes the NZAA site record number which is assigned to the archaeological site which has been dated. This number should be affixed to the Metric Map number thus, S27/358.
  The easterly grid reference for the site.
  The northerly grid reference for the site.
Feature name
  This describes the archaeological feature or features from which the dated samples originate. It may describe the site and its features in detail, or simply the catalogue/bag number from which the material was obtained.
  This field contains the names of the Department of Conservation conservancies. These are listed as a pull down selection option in the search form.
NZMS1 Site No
  This field contains the imperial site record number.
Lab number
  This refers to the number plus laboratory prefix, for each dated sample. The prefix identifies the measuring laboratory. There are 7 laboratory prefixes in the database in total.
Run number
  This field contains the run number listed for each radiocarbon date for samples from the Rafter Radiocarbon Laboratory only.
  The d13C value, or DeltaC13, is the correction applied to radiocarbon dates to account for the fractionation, or change in isotopic ratios, which occurs during the natural biochemical processes inherent in 14C moving through the Earth's biosphere. The d13C value also provides valuable information concerning the environment from which the sample originates. The value is expressed in parts per thousand (per mille) and represents the deviation in per mille from the international standard, a corrected value derived from the PeeDee Belemnite formation in the eastern US.
  Conventional Radiocarbon Age. This field contains the radiocarbon age for the sample. The conventional radiocarbon age is expressed as years BP (Before Present, present being 1950 AD) and almost without exception, the samples are calculated according to the conventions outlined by Stuiver and Polach (1977). The dates are calculated using the Libby half-life for 14C, with correction for d13C, unless stated. Some d13C values are estimated.
Std Error
  This field denotes the standard error which is associated with the Conventional Radiocarbon Age (BP). The standard error usually represents the statistic associated with the measurement time for the sample dated. In some instances a laboratory error multiplier is included to account for variations in laboratory reproducibility. Contact the original measuring laboratories for further information.
Sample Identifier
  This field refers to the code number given to the sample which was dated. This is usually provided by the submitter of the material to provide a identifier for the material sent to the laboratory for dating.
  This field describes the environment from which the material which has been dated was originally from. This is either M (marine) or T (terrestrial). In reality this is a simplification owing to the range of radiocarbon reservoirs from which carbonaceous material in archaeological sites originates (see sample description for more information).
Sample Description
  This field contains a description of the type of material which was dated. In the case of shell, it will sometimes contain a description of the species of shell or shells dated. In the case of bone, the type and species or bone, and in the case of charcoal the degree of identification of the material.