Browsing Radiocarbon, Volume 43, Number 2B (2001) by Subjects
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The Cave of Theopetra, Kalambaka: Radiocarbon Evidence for 50,000 Years of Human PresenceThe cave of Theopetra is located on the northeast side of a limestone rock formation, 3 km south of Kalambaka (21 degrees 40'46"E, 39 degrees 40'51"N), in Thessaly, central Greece. It is a unique prehistoric site for Greece, as the Middle and Upper Paleolithic, Mesolithic, and Neolithic periods are present here, bridging the Pleistocene with the Holocene. Several alternations of the climate during the Pleistocene are recognized in its stratigraphy. Among the most striking finds, two human skeletons, one from the Upper Paleolithic period after the Last Glacial Maximum and one from the Mesolithic period, should be emphasized, while in a deep Middle Paleolithic layer, the oldest human footprints, with remains of fire, were uncovered. During the 13 years of excavation, evidence of human activity suitable for radiocarbon dating was collected, such as charcoal samples from hearths and bones from the two human skeletons. The use of proportional counters for the measurement of 14C in combination with the recent improvement of the calibration curve has enabled the production of high-precision reliable ages Sixty 14C-dated samples, originating from 19 pits and from depths ranging from 0.10 m to 4.20 m, have already provided an absolute time framework for the use of the cave. The earliest limit of human presence probably exceeds 48,000 BP and the latest reaches World War II. Within these limits the 14C dating of samples from consecutive layers, in combination with the archaeological data, permits the resolution of successive anthropogenic and environmental events.
The Kennewick Skeleton: Chronological and Biomolecular ContextsA human skeleton recovered near Kennewick, Washington, USA in 1996 has been dated to the early Holocene on the basis of multiple radiocarbon determinations, an analysis of a style of a temporally diagnostic projectile point found embedded in the ilium of the skeleton, and geological investigations of the locality where the skeleton was recovered. Based on morphological criteria, the Kennewick skeleton, which is one of the most complete early Holocene human skeletons recovered so far in the Western Hemisphere, appears to be more similar to those of modern South Asians and Europeans than to modern Native Americans or to contemporary indigenous populations of Northeast Asia.