Radiocarbon dating of fossils taken from caves
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When such materials are lying on a cave floor near art on the cave wall, archaeologists have to make many assumptions before concluding that they are contemporary.
Questions have even arisen in cases like the superb renditions of horses, rhinos, and other animals in France's Grotte Chauvet, the cave where researchers have directly radiocarbon dated artworks executed in charcoal to 37,000 years ago.
Other archaeologists have argued that artists could have entered Chauvet much later and picked up charcoal that had been lying around for thousands of years.
Now in a paper published online today in , dating expert Alistair Pike of the University of Bristol in the United Kingdom and archaeologist Paul Pettitt of the University of Sheffield in the United Kingdom, together with colleagues in Spain, applied a technique called uranium-series (U-series) dating to artworks from 11 Spanish caves.
U-series dating has been around since the 1950s and is often used to date caves, corals, and other proxies for climate and sea level changes.