Electron Spin Resonance (ESR) is the only chronometric method that can be applied to date Early Pleistocene fossil teeth from early hominid occupations in the Mediterranean area. Recent investigations focused on these old samples have highlighted the limitations of the standard procedures, as well as the complexity of the post depositional alteration processes in dental tissues at micro-scale.
To overcome these issues, the present project proposes a cutting edge investigation that can only be performed as a joint project between RSES and CENIEH, since these institutions offer complementary facilities and experienced staff. Basically, this work aims at: (i) Investigating the physical and chemical processes that are affecting dental tissues at micro scale and evaluating their impact on the ESR age results, (ii) developing a high resolution combined US-ESR dating approach for fossil teeth.
From a methodological perspective, the project is expected to improve the reliability of the ESR method by contributing to the understanding of why for a given site, some samples yield seemingly reliable results while others do not. This will lead to the identification of some objective criteria to evaluate the suitability of tooth samples for ESR dating.
On the geochronological side, this project will expose new perspectives for the ESR method. This new high resolution approach will improve the accuracy of the age estimates, since several ages per sample will be produced once suitable dental domains have been identified. This project will provide new ESR dating results for some of the oldest archaeological sites in the Mediterranean basin, thus contributing to improve our knowledge of the first hominid settlements in this area.
The present project is an important step for the development of Mathieu Duval’s scientific career, by offering him the possibility to acquire new competencies and to interact with world leading researchers in Earth Sciences and Archaeology.
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