This year’s William Boyd Dawkins lecture will be held at 18:30 in University Place, lecture theatre A, Oxford Road, on December 9th, and will be given by Professor Tom Higham (University of Oxford), on:-
“Time for the Palaeolithic:Radiocarbon Dating, the Neanderthal Demise, and the Arrival of Modern Humans in Europe”.
Radiocarbon dating by AMS is the key method for understanding the date of the movement of the earliest anatomically modern humans (AMH) into Europe and the concomitant demise of the Neanderthals. Work in Oxford has shown that many previously obtained radiocarbon dates have been severely compromised by contamination that has remained unremoved in many cases. New approaches, using more robust techniques, have resulted in a significant changes to the chronologies of key sites and to a change in our understanding of the timing and pace of cultural changes in the Middle to Upper Palaeolithic. This is the period during which Neanderthals and other Archaic humans were replaced by populations of anatomically modern humans (AMH). Prof. Higham will describe some of the work he has undertaken in the last 10 years, including improved chemical pretreatment methodologies and their application, and describe some of the results. Other important developments in genetics have recently transformed aspects of the field. Finally Prof. Higham will talk about the key issues that need to be tackled if scientists are to further improve our understanding of this key period and the bio-cultural shift that occurred in Eurasia between 50-30,000 years ago.