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Research Areas of the Luminescence Dating Laboratory

The luminescence dating laboratory at MPI-EVA focusses on providing chronometric ages for Paleolithic sites and their environmental contexts. This complements the information regarding human behavior and evolution which can be obtained from human and faunal remains, typological/technological analyses of artefacts, stratigraphy and site formation processes. Luminescence dating effectively measures the time since sediment burial or heating of stone (above 500°C), and can yield ages of up to several hundred thousand years. Luminescence dating methods thus help provide the temporal framework for understanding human evolution.

Most of our research addresses questions relating to the timing of transitional periods, such as the anatomically modern human dispersal out of Africa into Eurasia after 50 ka; typological changes in Paleolithic technology in southern and northern Africa or the Levant; and hominin adaptation to changing environments. Another focus lies on the timing of the Saalian- and Elsterian glacial cycles in Germany and the associated changes in palaeoenvironmental conditions in the area which play a key role for  the first early human settlements north of the Alps. Furthermore, methodological work is carried out to better understand the nature of luminescence and radioluminescence characteristics in sediments, and to improve luminescence and infrared-radiofluorescence dating protocols.


The luminescence dating group

Dr. Tobias Lauer
Dr. Debra Colarossi
Nina Dörschner (PhD candidate)
Steffi Hesse  


Dr. Kathryn Fitzsimmons
Dr. Daniel Richter
Dr. Anja Guhl