Combe Capelle redated

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I missed this earlier this month, but Julien Riel-Salvatore did not: “Burial Site at Combe Capelle in France is Not as Old as Previously Assumed, by Several Thousands Years”

After an initial sample of the famous skull failed to yield results in radiocarbon dating, a second sample was taken from a molar in the lower jaw for testing in June 2009 in Kiel. In previous cases, compact tooth enamel had shown better preservation conditions of the collagen needed for radiocarbon dating. A sufficient amount of collagen was able to be extracted after preparation and intense cleaning of the tooth substance. Subsequent analysis using accelerator mass spectrometry at the laboratory in Kiel assigned a date of 7575 BCE to the remains of what had previously been assumed to be an early Homo sapiens specimen, meaning earlier assumptions had been out by several thousands of years.

This does not come as a surprise; the provenience of the skeleton has always been doubtful. It was unearthed by Otto Hauser in 1909. Excavations from a century ago were not often conducted with a fastidiousness for stratigraphy, Hauser being a prime offender. Remember this is three years before Piltdown; a time when finding “modern” looking skeletons in association with old archaeology could make someone’s fame.

There are some great pictures of the discovery and Hauser posing with the bones, at the Past Horizons site.