August 2020

La Ferrassie chronology figure

New pubblication in JQS!

It is with great pleasure that we announce our new publication on the La Ferrassie #Chronology is now online at JQS and is OA!


The grand abri at La Ferrassie (France) has been a key site for Palaeolithic research since the early part of the 20th century. It became the eponymous site for one variant of Middle Palaeolithic stone tools, and its sequence was used to define stages of the Aurignacian, an early phase of the Upper Palaeolithic. Several Neanderthal remains, including two relatively intact skeletons, make it one of the most important sites for the study of Neanderthal morphology and one of the more important data sets when discussing the Neanderthal treatment of the dead. However, the site has remained essentially undated. Our goal here is to provide a robust chronological framework of the La Ferrassie sequence to be used for broad regional models about human behaviour during the late Middle to Upper Palaeolithic periods. To achieve this goal, we used a combination of modern excavation methods, extensive geoarchaeological analyses, and radiocarbon dating. If we accept that Neanderthals were responsible for the Châtelperronian, then our results suggest an overlap of ca. 1600 years with the newly arrived Homo sapiens found elsewhere in France.

Click here to see and download the pubblication, and here to see the news on twitter. 

Figure of overlap between Neanderthal and Homo sapiens

The new feature of IntCal20 between 40 and 48 ka BP is now online in a Brief report  at PNASAs an illustration, we consider the duration of the overlap between Neanderthals and Homo sapiens in Eurasia.


The new radiocarbon calibration curve (IntCal20) allows us to calculate the gradient of the relationship between 14C age and calendar age over the past 55 millennia before the present (55 ka BP). The new gradient curve exhibits a prolonged and prominent maximum between 48 and 40 ka BP during which the radiocarbon clock runs almost twice as fast as it should. This radiocarbon time dilation is due to the increase in the atmospheric 14C/12C ratio caused by the 14C production rise linked to the transition into the Laschamp geomagnetic excursion centered around 41 ka BP. The major maximum in the gradient from 48 to 40 ka BP is a new feature of the IntCal20 calibration curve, with far-reaching impacts for scientific communities, such as prehistory and paleoclimatology, relying on accurate ages in this time range. To illustrate, we consider the duration of the overlap between Neanderthals and Homo sapiens in Eurasia.

 See the original Twitter post here.

Paper title with authors

IntCal20 is finally out!


The new International Calibration Curve IntCal20 for the first time Open Access in the Radiocarbon journal, to read the article click here!

Check it out on Twitter by clicking here or read the abstract of the paper below!


Radiocarbon (14C) ages cannot provide absolutely dated chronologies for archaeological or paleoenvironmental studies directly but must be converted to calendar age equivalents using a calibration curve compensating for fluctuations in atmospheric 14C concentration. Although calibration curves are constructed from independently dated archives, they invariably require revision as new data become available and our understanding of the Earth system improves. In this volume the international 14C calibration curves for both the Northern and Southern Hemispheres, as well as for the ocean surface layer, have been updated to include a wealth of new data and extended to 55,000 cal BP. Based on tree rings, IntCal20 now extends as a fully atmospheric record to ca. 13,900 cal BP. For the older part of the timescale, IntCal20 comprises statistically integrated evidence from floating tree-ring chronologies, lacustrine and marine sediments, speleothems, and corals. We utilized improved evaluation of the timescales and location variable 14C offsets from the atmosphere (reservoir age, dead carbon fraction) for each dataset. New statistical methods have refined the structure of the calibration curves while maintaining a robust treatment of uncertainties in the 14C ages, the calendar ages and other corrections. The inclusion of modeled marine reservoir ages derived from a three-dimensional ocean circulation model has allowed us to apply more appropriate reservoir corrections to the marine 14C data rather than the previous use of constant regional offsets from the atmosphere. Here we provide an overview of the new and revised datasets and the associated methods used for the construction of the IntCal20 curve and explore potential regional offsets for tree-ring data. We discuss the main differences with respect to the previous calibration curve, IntCal13, and some of the implications for archaeology and geosciences ranging from the recent past to the time of the extinction of the Neanderthals.