Maximum age limit radiocarbon dating fossils
The new AMS dating shows that the culture arose at about the same time (~45 ka) as the Uluzzian tool industry began in Italy and ended in those areas where it was used at about the same time (~41 ka) as did the more widespread Mousterian culture.
So the question of whether Neanderthals copied stone shaping techniques from the earliest Uluzzian-making AMH more than 500 km to the east, or invented the methods themselves remains an open question.
The new data do not quash the idea of Neanderthals eking out survival almost until the last glacial maximum in the southernmost Iberian Peninsula, since material from Gorham’s Cave could not be dated.
However, occupation levels at another site in southern Spain in which Neanderthal fossils occur and that had been dated at 33 ka turned out to be much older (46 ka).
This is calculated through careful measurement of the residual activity (per gram C) remaining in a sample whose age is Unknown, compared with the activity present in Modern and Background samples. Thus 1950, is year 0 BP by convention in radiocarbon dating and is deemed to be the 'present'.
A copy of this paper may be found in the Radiocarbon Home Page The radiocarbon age of a sample is obtained by measurement of the residual radioactivity. T (National Institute of Standards and Technology; Gaithersburg, Maryland, USA) Oxalic Acid I (C). The activity of 1890 wood is corrected for radioactive decay to 1950.
Indeed, materials previously dated using less sophisticated methods are found to be significantly older. One such site is Gorham’s Cave in the Rock of Gibraltar where earlier dating suggested that Neanderthals clung on in southern Iberia until about 25 ka.
This has led archaeologists to rethink several hypotheses , none more so than those concerned with the relationship in Europe between anatomically modern humans (AMH) and Neanderthals, especially the extinction of the latter. Another hypothesis concerns the so called Châtelperronian tool industry which previous dating at the upper age limit of earlier radiocarbon methodology could not resolve whether or not it preceded AMH colonisation of Europe; i.e.
The team of geochronologists at Oxford University who pioneered accelerator mass spectrometry (AMS) of carbon isotopes, together with the many European archaeologists whose research has benefitted from it, have now published results from 40 sites across Europe that have yielded either Neanderthal remains or the tools they are thought to have fashioned (Higham, T. The timing and spatiotemporal patterning of Neanderthal disappearance. it could either have been a Neanderthal invention or copied from the new entrants.
Most important is establishing when AMH first did set foot in previously Neanderthal’s exclusive territory and for how long the two kinds of human cohabited Europe before the elder group met its end.