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Durham University

Research & business

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Re-examination of the chronology of Pleistocene hominid sites circa 500,000-50,000 years ago

A research project of the Department of Archaeology.

Background

Dr. Andrew Millard has been conducting a systematic and internally coherent review of the dating evidence (both stratigraphic and chronometric) for Pleistocene hominids, c. 500ka-50ka outside Europe and c. 500ka-200ka in Europe. Funding has come from the Arts and Humanities Research Council and Durham University.

For each site the stratigraphic, scientific dating and other dating evidence are considered and where possible integrated using advanced statistical techniques. The research is revealing that some fossils are not as well dated as much of the literature assumes, but conversely we can attach much more precise age estimates to other fossils from some repeatedly dated sites.

A review of that data from African and Levantine sites has appeared in Journal of Human Evolution. Work is now focussed on Asian sites, and for Chinese sites, Dr Millard I collaborating with Prof Liping Zhou of Peking University who visited Durham in early 2013 as a Fellow of the Institute of Advanced Studies.

Published Results

Journal Article

  • Millard, A. R. (2008). A critique of the chronometric evidence for hominid fossils: I. Africa and the Near East 500-50ka. Journal of Human Evolution 54(6): 848-874.
  • Millard, AR (2006). Bayesian analysis of ESR dates, with application to Border Cave. Quaternary Geochronology 1(2): 159-166.
  • Millard, A. R. (2006). Bayesian analysis of Pleistocene Chronometric Methods. Archaeometry 48(2): 359-375.

Chapter in book

  • Millard AR (2003). Taking Bayes Beyond Radiocarbon: Bayesian Approaches to Some Other Chronometric Methods. In Tools for Constructing Chronologies: Crossing Disciplinary Boundaries. Buck CE & Millard AR London: Springer Verlag. 231-248.

Staff

From the Department of Archaeology