Chronologies and constraints of prehistoric sites in Eurasia

The objectives of this commission are to establish and reinforce the chronological frameworks of prehistoric sites across Eurasia in order to obtain a better knowledge of human evolution outside Africa from about two million years ago. For that, several approaches can be followed:  Improve the dating results on sites older than 1Ma, which are not associated with volcanic levels.  Provide improved chronologies for the period between 130 and 30ka corresponding to the development and expansion of Modern Humans.  Develop and improve the protocols of palaeodosimetric methods.  Implement routinely non-invasive dating methods on valuable samples such as human remains.  Cross check the results using different independent dating methods for recent periods. Beyond the methodological aspects, this commission suggests working essentially in Eurasia on three scientific aspects divided into three periods: 1) The chronology of the transition between Neandertals and anatomically Modern Humans and their associated cultures. A key-topic dealing with an eventual contemporaneity between Neandertals and the first manifestations of anatomically Modern Humans especially in Western Europe. The “transitional industries” represent an important scientific target whist the association of some industries with human species is not exactly known. The dating methods are 14C, U-series, OSL and TL, ESR/U-Series. 2) The period of “cultural” innovation Since the time of the oldest intentional hearths found in several prehistoric sites such as Terra Amata and Menez Dregan in France or Verteszöllos in Hungary between 350-450 ka, and the disappearance of Neandertals around 35 ka, new lithic innovations such as the Levallois technique and the standardization of the Acheulian tool-kits spread largely within Europe. It is crucial to provide a good chronological framework for these cultural changes. This period also corresponds to the emergence of the typical anatomical traits of Neandertals. The dating methods involved are TL on burnt flints, OSL (postIr-Ir, infrared, TT OSL) on sediments, U-series on carbonated formations, ESR on quartz, ESR/U-Series on herbivorous teeth, 40Ar/39Ar on volcanic ash layers. 3) The first settlements in Europe a) Younger than Jaramillo A period during which the second wave of human settlements is observed in Europe at the roots of the Acheulian “cultures” and the emergence of Homo heidelbergensis. The recent discoveries of handaxes older than 800 ka in Spain suggest that no link can be established between the two at this stage. The dating methods available are ESR, OSL, U-series and 40Ar/39Ar, Cosmogenic isotopes (Be/Al). b) Older than Jaramillo The first evidence of human settlements in Europe are found between 1.2 and 1.4 Ma therefore well after the Dmanisi site, Georgia, where the oldest evidence of human presence outside Africa, found around the end of the Olduvai Subchron (c.a. 1.8 Ma). In this time range we face several problems to providing reliable and precise dates. Excluding some sites, the chronological framework for the period between Olduvai and Jaramillo is mainly based on magnetostratigraphy and biostratigraphic data. It is now crucial to increase the number of radiometric data to improve this chronological framework. The dating methods that could be applied are the following: Cosmogenic isotopes (Be/Al), 40Ar/39Ar, ESR combined with magnetostratigraphic and biostratigraphic and biochronological data.

PRESIDENT: Christophe Falguères, CNRS, SECRETARY: Qingfeng Shao, University of Nanjing, China, VICE_PRESIDENT: Martina Demuro, University of Adelaide, Autralia,