U series dating
But he still thinks it most likely that modern humans made the art, because the dates still correspond most closely to the time when was first entering Europe.Archaeologist Nuno Bicho of the University of Algarve in Portugal agrees that "the new data seem to fall a bit short of confirming [the] idea," that Neandertals were artists.Because these elements (and their isotopes) all have different half-lives, elements with longer half-lives will be present in greater quantities than those with shorter half-lives.Therefore, when equilibrium is disrupted (for example when a mineral breaks down leading to gain or loss of uranium and/or thorium), we can calculate the degree to which equilibrium has been restored between parent and daughter isotopes.
Questions have even arisen in cases like the superb renditions of horses, rhinos, and other animals in France's Grotte Chauvet, the cave where researchers have directly radiocarbon dated artworks executed in charcoal to 37,000 years ago.
Other archaeologists have argued that artists could have entered Chauvet much later and picked up charcoal that had been lying around for thousands of years.
Now in a paper published online today in , dating expert Alistair Pike of the University of Bristol in the United Kingdom and archaeologist Paul Pettitt of the University of Sheffield in the United Kingdom, together with colleagues in Spain, applied a technique called uranium-series (U-series) dating to artworks from 11 Spanish caves.
Using a blade or an electric drill, the team took 50 small samples from calcite that directly overlay either paintings or engravings in 11 caves in northwest Spain.
Because the calcite overlays the paintings, it must be younger than the art, and so yields minimum ages.