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Earlier tests on charcoal from the deepest layers of the excavations suggested that it was at least 40,000 years old, the traditionally accepted accurate "barrier" limit of radiocarbon dating.
Whether you’re curious about ancient cultures or are considering a career as an archaeologist yourself, these resources can help you put it all together.Mesolithic Britain was thought to have been inhabited by hunter-gatherers, constantly on the move in search of food; however, the recent excavation of a dwelling in Northumbria reveals our Stone Age ancestors to have been ingenious and elaborate house builders. Bird said the method had been used in the past two years to secure radiocarbon dates older than 40,000 years for archaeological sites in South Africa and Australia, notably the famous Devil's Lair site in Western Australia, which was redated at up to 50,000 years old.Radiocarbon dates become progressively less reliable on older material and until the ABOX technique was developed, few scientists would accept their accuracy beyond the barrier limit, he said.The international team of researchers dated charcoal from a hearth at the controversial Pedra Furada archaeological site in Brazil and reported its findings in the latest issue of the journal Quaternary Science Reviews.
They used a new technique that pushes back the so-called radiocarbon dating barrier, according to Dr Guaciara dos Santos and colleagues who ran tests at the Australian National University.The procedure is known as ABOX (acid-base-wet-oxidation) and involves chemically scouring a fine layer off the charcoal surface."[This] reliably removes contamination from charcoal and wood enabling credible radiocarbon dating to about 55,000 years before present," the report said."These dates are good and reliable and there's no reason to doubt them," Dr Michael Bird, a member of the team who developed the new dating technique, told ABC Science Online. If they are hearths, they are very old indeed." The site at Pedra Furada, in the Serra da Capivara National Park, is a rich archaeological area of sandstone rock shelters.It contains many prehistoric sites, including hundreds of rock artworks, stone tools and human remains.It is important to remember that this method give the age of the mineral, not the artifact.