miércoles, 15 de febrero de 2017

The Maxilla of Kent’s Cavern: A Dating Controversy

Maxilla — part of an upper jawbone — found at Kent's Cavern, UK. Nature

The site of Kent’s Cavern is one of the most important early archaeological sites in the United Kingdom and caused a heated debate between palaeoanthropologists over the age of the KC4 fragment of human jaw in 2011. In 2017, a team of archaeologists re-assessed the archaeological sediments.

... It was not until 1989, that radiometric dating was applied to the KC4 jaw fragment, providing an age of 30,900 years. A few other faunal bones, including one of an Coelodonta antiquitatis (Woolly Rhino) provided an age of 37,000 years. But the faunal bones were found about a meter higher up in the stratigraphic sequence. More work needed to be done to clarify why the older faunal remains were found above the KC4 maxilla. In 2011 an interpolation model was applied to the radiometric dates provided by the fauna and concluded that the maxilla may date to between 44,200 and 41,500 years of age.

These results caused heated debate, with critics arguing that the Kent’s Cavern team were too trusting of the interpreted site formation processes. Many academic papers were published laying out why there were considerable problems with this new approach, which employed Bayesian statistics. It was not the latter that was the problem, it was the fear that the cave sediments had been severely disturbed, making the dating of the site a very difficult process. In 2017, another paper was published on a re-analysis of the excavations. The team of archaeologists working on this paper concluded that the quality of the excavation was done to a “reasonable standard”. [...] HeritageDaily 

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