Publication Details

Jacobs, Z., Li, B., Jankowski, N. & Soressi, M. (2015). Testing of a single grain OSL chronology across the Middle to Upper Palaeolithic transition at Les Cottés (France). Journal of Archaeological Science, 54 110-122.


The timing of the Middle Palaeolithic to Upper Palaeolithic transition in France is important to help understand when, where and how Neanderthals have been replaced by Homo sapiens. Radiocarbon dating has been the dating workhorse in constructing the chronological framework pertinent to these questions. In this study, we are testing whether single grain OSL dating has the accuracy and precision to be useful as a complementary dating method. The site of Les Cottés provides an ideal testing ground because of its stratigraphic integrity and reliable radiocarbon chronology. We applied single grain OSL dating of quartz to 19 samples and multi-aliquot MET-pIRIR dating of potassium-rich feldspar grains to 5 samples to explicitly test assumptions of pre-depositional resetting of the OSL signal and post-depositional exposure to variable beta dose rates. The good agreement between the single grain OSL and the multi-aliquot MET pIRIR ages suggest that the optical signals of both quartz and feldspar grains were reset prior to deposition and that much of the extra scatter observed in the equivalent dose distribution of quartz grains are likely due to the small-scale differences in beta dose delivered to individual grains. Both the quartz OSL and feldspar MET-pIRIR ages show great consistency with the 14C ages on bone collected from the same units. This gives confidence in the measurement and analytical approaches used to derive both the equivalent dose and dose rate, the numerator and denominator, respectively, of the luminescence age equation. These results suggest that a systematic and detailed single grain OSL dating study can have the accuracy and precision that is necessary to play a powerful role in the dating of the Middle and Upper Palaeolithic transition and other questions of importance in this time range and geographical area.

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