Dating the Paleolithic: Trapped charge methods and amino acid geochronology

Kirsty E.H. Penkman, Geoff A.T. Duller, Helen M. Roberts, Debra Colarossi, Marc R. Dickinson, Dustin White

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Despite the vast array of different geochronological tools available, dating the Paleolithic remains one of the discipline's greatest challenges. This review focuses on two different dating approaches: trapped charge and amino acid geochronology. While differing in their fundamental principles, both exploit time-dependent changes in signals found within crystals to generate a chronology for the material dated and hence, the associated deposits. Within each method, there is a diverse range of signals that can be analyzed, each covering different time ranges, applicable to different materials and suitable for different paleoenvironmental and archaeological contexts. This multiplicity of signals can at first sight appear confusing, but it is a fundamental strength of the techniques, allowing internal checks for consistency and providing more information than simply a chronology. For each technique, we present an overview of the basis for the time-dependent signals and the types of material that can be analyzed, with examples of their archaeological application, as well as their future potential.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere2109324119
Number of pages10
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number43
Publication statusPublished - 25 Oct 2022

Bibliographical note

© 2022 the Author(s)


  • electron spin resonance
  • luminescence
  • Quaternary
  • racemization

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