Publication Details

Stephens, M., Roberts, R. & Lian, O. (2016). Optical dating of sediments from the West Mouth. In G. Barker & L. Farr (Eds.), Archaeological Investigations in the Niah Caves, Sarawak (pp. 235-242). Cambridge: McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research.


This chapter reports on optical dating procedures carried out in 2002-2003 in an attempt to estimate the timing of deposition of sedimentary units of archaeological significance in the West Mouth. Optical dating is a well established method for determining the time elapsed since grains of quartz or feldspar were last exposed to sunlight. The established age-range of the method is from one to 150,000 years and so was applicable to the West Mouth where chronology based on radiocarbon-dated charcoal places the earliest hominim presence at about 50,000 BP. Because this age is at the upper limit of the radiocarbon dating technique, the optical dating programme was initiated to provide an independent comparison.