Dating prehistoric paintings

The need for an accurate chronological framework is particularly important for the early phases of the Upper Paleolithic, which correspond to the first works of art attributed to Aurignacian groups.Carbon-14 is the only method used for the direct dating of organic pigments, but indirect methods are used to date subsequent deposits on rock art (thermoluminescence, OSL, Uranium/thorium, etc.).The effects of this correction become very significant and inaccurate beyond 30 ka.It is for this reason that the period corresponding to the advent of anatomically modern humans () in Europe and the transition from Neanderthal Man to modern Man remains relatively poorly secured on an absolute time scale, opening the way to all sorts of speculation and controversy.The earlier the age, the higher the uncertainty, due to additional causes of error.Moreover, the ages obtained by carbon-14 do not correspond to exact calendar years and thus require correction.The COThe calibration of radiocarbon ages is carried out through correlation with other methods yielding calendar ages, such as dendrochronology (until 10000 BP), marine or lacustrine varves or dating of corals or speleothems with uranium series.The calibration curves vary according to research progress and are regularly revised (Cal Pal-2007, Int Cal09, Intcal13; figure 2).

A second cause of error is due to what we call the reservoir effect of oceans.In sum, the classical method of charcoal preparation, called ABA (three steps consisting of an acid treatment, then basic, then acid again) has now been replaced by a variant known as ABOx-SC (an oxidation stage and step combustion are added to the acid and basic treatment).In nearly all cases, the ABOx-SC procedure yields dates 3000 to 5000For bone dating, a new method of collagen extraction and purification has also been developed.Calcium oxalate deposits can be mixed in with pigments and skew the results as their age can vary from the age of the paintings to the present-day (see below the paragraph on oxalates).It is thus essential to ensure that oxalates have been eliminated (Bonneau The significance of these contaminations explains why all current research is aimed at improving pretreatment procedures.

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