Carbon dating not real
‘We’re kind of at the mercy of geochemistry.’Pike’s team used this method to give a minimum date to red hand stencils found in a cave in northern Spain called El Castillo, which contains the oldest known cave art in the world. This is long after humans were supposed to become anatomically modern, adding to the evidence suggesting that early anatomically modern humans didn’t necessarily act modern. Anatomically modern humans arrived in northern Spain around 42,000 to 43,000 years ago, and Neanderthals died out between 39,000 and 41,000 years ago.But because the stencil date is a minimum age, there’s a chance the Neanderthals could have been the artists.
Developed by Willard Libby in the 1940s – and winning him the Nobel prize in chemistry in 1960 – the basic principle of radiocarbon dating is simple: living things exchange carbon with their environment until they die.The first excavations in the 1950s and 1960s revealed a hub of ancient human activity, spanning thousands of years’ worth of artefacts.Unfortunately much of it originates from outside radiocarbon dating’s timescale. was almost non-existent,’ says Geoff Duller, a geochronologist from the University of Aberystwyth in Wales.However, it quickly became clear that something wasn’t quite right.
‘As is always the case, a new dating technique comes along and everyone latches onto it,’ explains Walker.Instead, Pike’s team turned to uranium-series dating, another radiometric method.