May 19, 2005

Dating of Mladec human remains

Nature 435, 332-335 (19 May 2005)

Direct dating of Early Upper Palaeolithic human remains from Mladec caron

Eva M. Wild et al.

The human fossil assemblage from the Mladec caron Caves in Moravia (Czech Republic)1 has been considered to derive from a middle or later phase of the Central European Aurignacian period on the basis of archaeological remains (a few stone artefacts and organic items such as bone points, awls, perforated teeth)2, despite questions3 of association between the human fossils and the archaeological materials and concerning the chronological implications of the limited archaeological remains4. The morphological variability in the human assemblage, the presence of apparently archaic features in some specimens, and the assumed early date of the remains have made this fossil assemblage pivotal in assessments of modern human emergence within Europe5, 6, 7. We present here the first successful direct accelerator mass spectrometry radiocarbon dating of five representative human fossils from the site. We selected sample materials from teeth and from one bone for 14C dating. The four tooth samples yielded uncalibrated ages of approx 31,000 14C years before present, and the bone sample (an ulna) provided an uncertain more-recent age. These data are sufficient to confirm that the Mladec caronhuman assemblage is the oldest cranial, dental and postcranialassemblage of early modern humans in Europe and is therefore central to discussions of modern human emergence in the northwestern Old World and the fate of the Neanderthals.


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