New chronometric age estimates for the context of the Neanderthal from Wannen-Ochtendung (Germany) by TL and argon dating

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  • Daniel Richter
  • Philip Klinger
  • Christoph Schmidt
  • Paul van den Bogaard
  • Ludwig Zöller

The partial neurocranium of a Neanderthal was recovered from deposits related to the latest volcanic activities recorded at the Wannen Volcanic Group. This last volcanic event provided heated mineral samples for thermoluminescence (TL) and Ar/Ar dating, allowing the estimation of the age of the hominin remains. Novel TL methods using a much less time consuming measurement protocol and employing the orange-red TL-signal (R-TL) were applied, resulting in ages of 177 ± 18 ka and 176 ± 21 ka for two samples of different geology. This new data is compared with standard TL-approaches for one of the samples, which provide an age of 187 ± 29 ka. The luminescence data is contrasted with a newly obtained Ar/Ar-age of 191 ± 12 ka for a sample from the identical heating event. All TL-dating results provide congruent results and are in perfect accordance with Ar/Ar dating, showing the applicability and accuracy of the new TL approach employed. These data also agree well with the geological age estimates and other chronometric data, placing the volcanism at Wannen to around 180–190 ka and thus providing a Saalian age of the fossil. Such an old age, however, contrasts to the reported preliminary placement of this specimen late in the Neanderthal lineage.

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Archaeological Science: Reports
Pages (from-to)127-136
Number of pages10
Publication statusPublished - 01.08.2017

    Research areas

  • Argon dating, Neanderthal, Red TL, Thermoluminescence dating, Volcanism, Wannen-Ochtendung
  • Geography
  • History