Filing down dates

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Polynesia was among the last places to be settled by humans, with the Lapita people arriving around 3,000 years ago (CWA 53). Now, according to a report published in PLOS ONE, the start of this occupation can be narrowed down to a 16-year window with high-precision dating.

Uranium-thorium analysis is used on materials with high calcium-carbonate content, such as stalagmites and marine coral. By examining coral files used by Tonga’s early inhabitants to sculpt wood and shell, researchers have pinpointed the arrival of humans to 2830-2846 years ago.

‘This degree of precision is impossible using radiocarbon and other dating techniques,’ said Dr David Burley of Simon Fraser University, Canada.

This article was published in World Archaeology Issue 57. Click here to subscribe

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