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Radiocarbon, tree rings, and solar variability provide the accurate time scale for human evolution and geoscience

Objective

Europe was the continent where Neanderthal and Anatomically Modern Human (AMH) interacted in a supposed time window of up to five millennia around 40,000 years ago (40 ka BP). The fate of our species versus the demise of Neanderthals, the geospatial timing of this process, the behavioural implications of their interaction, are hotly debated topics in archaeology. In this context, chronology plays a pivotal role, with radiocarbon (14C) dating representing the backbone back to 50 ka BP.
However, due to varying atmospheric 14C concentrations in the past, the method requires calibration to an independently dated archive. So far, only the past 14 ka BP can profit from the most direct natural archive of 14C activity, which are annually resolved tree-ring chronologies. Before this time, temporal resolution is remarkably lower and different calibration records disagree, leading to discrepancies in the calibration of up to 2000 years.
This project aims to achieve for the first time an accurate and highly resolved chronology back to 50 ka BP, to establish the timing of when AMHs arrived in Europe, their interaction with Neanderthals and the final cause of Neanderthal extinction.
The project involves fieldwork in Mediterranean and southeast Europe to find more glacial trees, the study of the existing collection of glacial conifers, exceptional 14C precision for 14C dates in the Glacial, and the cutting-edge methodology in linking floating tree-ring chronologies to 10Be on the ice core scale.
The results of this work will be crucial in solving some of the most interesting puzzles in European prehistory. With tree-rings, the resolution will be an order of magnitude higher, and using the most recent advances in the AMS technique, we will obtain confidence intervals of only a few centuries in glacial times. This project will be of pivotal importance for key periods in human evolution.

Host institution

ALMA MATER STUDIORUM - UNIVERSITA DI BOLOGNA
Net EU contribution
€ 1 149 476,00
Address
Via Zamboni 33
40126 Bologna
Italy

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Region
Nord-Est Emilia-Romagna Bologna
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
Other funding
€ 0,00

Beneficiaries (3)

ALMA MATER STUDIORUM - UNIVERSITA DI BOLOGNA
Italy
Net EU contribution
€ 1 149 476,00
Address
Via Zamboni 33
40126 Bologna

See on map

Region
Nord-Est Emilia-Romagna Bologna
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
Other funding
€ 0,00
MAX-PLANCK-GESELLSCHAFT ZUR FORDERUNG DER WISSENSCHAFTEN EV

Participation ended

Germany
Net EU contribution
€ 0,00
Address
Hofgartenstrasse 8
80539 Munchen
Region
Bayern Oberbayern München, Kreisfreie Stadt
Activity type
Research Organisations
Other funding
€ 0,00
UNIVERSITAET HOHENHEIM
Germany
Net EU contribution
€ 349 905,00
Address
Schloss Hohenheim
70599 Stuttgart

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Region
Baden-Württemberg Stuttgart Stuttgart, Stadtkreis
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
Other funding
€ 0,00