A test of uranium-series dating of fossil tooth enamel: results from Tournal Cave, France

Applied Geochemistry
By: , and 


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A series of well preserved mammal bones and horse teeth was analyzed from archaeological levels of Tournal Cave (Magdalenian, Aurignacian, and Mousterain) to test the hypothesis that well-crystallized enamel behaves more as a closed system than does whole bone. The isotopic composition of bones and tooth enamels from this deposit meet criteria for confidence, and gave no reasons to suspect contamination or open-system behavior. Two samples for which 231Pa could be analyzed showed internal concordance with the respective 230Th ages. In spite of the favourable isotopic criteria, however, comparison of the U-series ages of the bones and the tooth enamel with stratigraphic position and 14C control indicated the dates were not meaningful. In general, both bones and tooth enamels gave ages too young, although some were clearly too old. Neither group showed any systematic increase of age with stratigraphic depth. Tooth enamel, therefore, shows no advantage over bone for U-series dating for this site. In Tournal cave both bones and enamel are apparently open to U, which is probably cycling as a consequences of post-depositional groundwater movement. ?? 1988.

Additional publication details

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title A test of uranium-series dating of fossil tooth enamel: results from Tournal Cave, France
Series title Applied Geochemistry
Volume 3
Issue 2
Year Published 1988
Language English
Larger Work Type Article
Larger Work Subtype Journal Article
Larger Work Title Applied Geochemistry
First page 145
Last page 151
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