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

Periodic Reporting for period 3 - RESOLUTION (Radiocarbon, tree rings, and solar variability provide the accurate time scale for human evolution and geoscience)

Período documentado: 2022-06-01 hasta 2023-11-30

It is a matter of time! We are all fascinated with time. We always want to organize it, decide it, define it, and improve it also means improving ourselves. Because knowing the time makes us understand our reality, feel alive, feel present, and guess what? We are the only human species present here today! We are the result of a finely tuned evolution. Not only have we evolved, but we are constantly upgrading, "WHATEVER IT TAKES!".
Most importantly, as the Dalai Lama said, "if we want to improve the world, we must first improve ourselves". Well, as an archaeologist who studies the ticking of the past time, I think that it is hard to improve ourselves if we do not know our past, the mistakes we have made; it is problematic if we don't know who "we had been"; and here let me be imperfect in using the past perfect as a way to emphasise a 40,000 years old past, a glorious past that brought us here today.
Thus, we too "had been", in the fascinating story of human evolution where, in this case, the awareness of the time that "had been" is marked by the quintessentially atomic clock, the Radiocarbon (14C). Understanding how it works and its improvements in the study of human evolution are essential if we want to upgrade.
The Principal Investigator of RESOLUTION project, synthesizes botany, physics, and humanities in a highly innovative way to obtain a precise timeline of human evolution. Through this multidisciplinary approach and with the team established during the first year, she is working on refining the calibration curve using the new segments obtained and by linking the floating tree-rings chronology with the 10Be (Beryllium 10) in the Greenland Ice cores. Moreover, she provides exceptional radiocarbon precision (14C error range) for periods older than 15,000 years and establishes a better chronology for when Homo sapiens arrived in Europe from Africa and met the European Neanderthals.
1) The different WPs of the project:

WP 1: Collection of glacial trees from sites in the Mediterranean
Collected new subfossil trees in Portugal and Italy. Make aware other researchers and the people working at the different gravel pits in Italy of our activity and start to create the network of people to the recovering of fossils trees.

WP 2: Establish new floating tree rings chronologies assisted by initial 14C dating.
We produced initial floating tree-ring chronologies using the materials collected from Revine (Italy), Cairo (Italy) and Furadouro (Portugal). Assisted by AMS ‘Speed Dates’ and initial AMS dates and through tree-ring width analysis, we found synchronous tree-ring width series and built initial ‘floating’ tree-ring chronologies of several hundred years from three different periods: (1) Cairo, Italy; (2) Furadouro, Portugal (ca. 30 ka BP); (3) Revine, Italy (c. 18 ka BP).

WP 3: Create high precision decadal 14C datasets from floating chronologies
In the reporting period, we did sample tree-rings from new Glacial trees from WP2, Cairo (Italy) and Furadouro. AMS results of Cairo turned out to be near Background (> 47ka BP), which is out of our core period and does not allow comparisons to the Ice-core 10Be series (WP4). So, we did not follow further AMS efforts on these trees.

WP 4 Link to the ice-core time scale via cosmogenic isotopes 10Be and 14C,
For the new series Furadouro (Portugal) (ca. 30ka) that is within our core period, we sampled the entire period in continuous defined 3-years blocks of ca. 50-100 mg wood, which allows a sample base for a final decadal radiocarbon series with an error of <80 yr (1-), which is prerequisite for series comparisons to 10Be. At the moment the Furadouro trees have only 220 rings, we are travelling every year to search for new trees in order to enlarge our section to longer segment to compare with the modulation of the 10Be.

WP 5 Apply the RESOLUTION chronology to key disputes in Human Evolution.
Combining the outcomes of WP 3 and WP 4, we are incorporating the close-to absolute ages from the floating tree-ring sections into the upcoming IntCal calibration curve. Dating more precisely new archaeological sites in Europe.

2) The construction of the new 14C Laboratory BRAVHO at Bologna University.
Since the new 14C laboratory (BRAVHO) in Bologna was launched, the PI received many requests from European research institutes and universities to perform new dating on key archaeological sites, strengthening the collaborations previously established for the study of human evolution.
Progresses beyond the state of the art are most obvious for the ongoing improvement of the IntCal calibration data set, beyond the present range of absolutely dated tree-ring chronologies (14.220 cal BP), RESOLUTION is building highly precise and accurate segments for the calibration of radiocarbon (14C) ages, from 15,000 to 55,000 years BP (Before Present). The new segments we are working on will improve the resolution by more than one order of magnitude and the precision by a factor of three to resolve the chronology of sequences involving only a few human generations.
The work of the second PhD on dating archaeological marine shells will allow us to accurately reconstruct the chronology of various archaeological sites. Moreover, this method will be applicable to a wide time range spanning from 55,000 years ago until modern times. Moreover, in collaboration with Dr. Stefania Milano at the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research (IZW), Berlin, the PhD should start new experiments involving shell stable isotope measurements to study the past climate reconstruction. This part of her PhD project will include a period abroad where she will visit the IZW, learn how to perform stable isotope measurements on mollusc shells and analyse the results. This will allow us to determine the climatic conditions in the different archaeological sites. We will analyse and combine them with the radiocarbon age determination to help elucidate relevant events.
Finally, the PI's work with world-renowned experts in radiocarbon, archaeology, paleo-anthropology-climatology-ecology, physicists will significantly broaden the research network in Italy and strengthen the PI's position as a scientist with a unique portfolio on the 14C interface and human evolution in Italy. The project's success will increase international and interdisciplinary academic mobility across Europe and generate an invaluable resource for the scientific community.
A resumè of all the activities of RESOLUTION