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Radiocarbon Research

Our group is strongly involved both in methodological development and application of AMS 14C.

One of our key themes is the nature of the possible relationship between Neanderthals and Anatomically Modern Human. Our radiocarbon group investigate important issues e.g. the beginning of Anatomically Modern Human (AMH) dispersal in Europe, the time of AMH encounter with Neanderthals, the putative overlap, the role of the glacial climate events, and the precise time of Neanderthal demise.

The projects involves to date several prehistoric sites that were poorly dated or not dated at all, with a focus on reassessing the chronology of famous Neanderthals/Anatomically Modern Human sites in Europe. Moreover we are focusing in developing Bayesian models to build complex chronological models for different sites in Eurasia spanning from the MUP to Mesolithic periods.

Since 2010 we have strong collaborations with geneticists in our Institute to undertake collaborative ancient DNA work, which resulted in several Nature group publications. The subject of the most recent one was to elucidate the status of the human remains of Riparo Mezzena and their relevance to the question of anatomically modern humans-Neanderthal interbreeding. The significance and novelty of this work is concerning the collaboration between state-of-the-art scientific methods in addressing one of the purported Neanderthal mandible and other human bone samples discovered in 1960 in northern Italy (Riparo Mezzena archaeological site).