Elizabeth K. Ralph— 1986 Pomerance Award for Scientific Contributions to Archaeology

Award Citation:

Dr. Elizabe.th K. Ralph: internationally recognized scholar in the fields of radiocarbon dating and sub-surface archaeological exploration, is an Associate m the Department of Physics and Associate Director of the Museum Applied Science Center for Archaeology (MASCA), both at the University of Pennsylvania, Dr. Ralph has continued the pioneering efforts of Willard F. Libby in radiocarbon dating. The development of the "new" (5730) half-life led, more recently, to the "calibration" of C-14 measurements with the help of dendrochronology. She has been a leader in these developments, being among the first to recognize the need for a correction factor in achieving a “reality” in radiocarbon dating. Under her direction, MASCA’s C-14 laboratory has acquired an international reputation for excellence by processing hundreds of measurements from all over the world while constantly evaluating such methodological issues as inter-laboratory calibration and the "radiocarbon calendar."

Dr. Ralph's contributions to archaeological research have gone well beyond the evaluation and refinement of the radiocarbon method, as her many publications attest. Under her direction, MASCA has led in the development of thermoluminescent dating, .tree-ring dating, and several other chronometric techniques. At the same time, she and her colleagues have been pioneers in "archaeological prospecting" by means of geophysical techniques such as magnetometer surveying. During the 1960s and 1970s Dr. Ralph supervised the testing of instrumentation for sub-surface archaeological exploration, which has taken her to countless sites. She ran field tests of instruments for archaeological exploration and searched for the buried city of Sybaris, Italy. Other archaeological field surveys with. Instruments for underground explorations include many sites from eastern Canada to Mexico in the Americas, from England to Yugoslavia in Europe, and Turkey to Egypt in the Near East.

Dr. Ralph, a Wellesley graduate in chemistry, earned her advanced degrees in physics and geology at the University of Pennsylvania and began her career in industry before she returned to academic life at the C-14 laboratory at its inception.

Those who have worked with Elizabeth K. Ralph in the field, or who have benefited from her laboratory's analyses of samples, regard Dr. Ralph With the highest esteem. She is a scientist of the loftiest standards and a human being of patience, fairness, and good humor. With great pride and gratitude for her many contributions to the growth and development of archaeology as an interdisciplinary science, we honor her today with the Pomerance Award of the Archaeological Institute of America for Scientific Contributions to Archaeology.

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