More ways to date a Neanderthal?

This is use­ful inform­a­tion for archae­olo­gists. Carbon Dating would be fant­astic if the pro­duc­tion of Carbon-13 were con­stant. It’s not. This means that archae­olo­gists need samples of known date to cal­ib­rate their car­bon dates. That’s pos­sible when you have things like a his­tor­ical record to match mater­ial against, but not so easy when you have no con­scious record­ing of a date.

The usual answer has been to use trees. You can date tree samples from the pat­tern of yearly growth. The pat­tern of thick and thin growth rings acts a bit like a fin­ger­print for earlier peri­ods which means you know the date of a sample to a year. You then car­bon date the sample to cal­ib­rate your car­bon dates. The prob­lem is tree-ring data only goes back to the latest parts of of the Upper Palaeolithic.

This new data could push dat­ing back as far as the Middle Palaeolithic and allow the dat­ing of later Neanderthal material.


Reshared post from +Kristina Killgrove

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Carbon Dating Gets a Reset: Scientific American
Climate records from a Japanese lake are provid­ing a more accur­ate timeline for dat­ing objects as far back as 50,000 years

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When he's not tired, fixing his car or caught in train delays, Alun Salt works part-time for the Annals of Botany weblog. His PhD was in ancient science at the University of Leicester, but he doesn't know Richard III.

2 Responses

  1. Dessy Aitken says:

    I thought Neanderthal dat­ing involved a blow to the head with a club then a drag­ging by the ankles. Oh! Not that kind of dat­ing.… Oops.

  2. Alun Salt says:

    No no no! That’s a ter­rible slur. I’ve con­duc­ted research into that kind of Neanderthal Dating. 😉