Aditi Dave and Marine Frouin have been at the site of Riparo Mochi, located near the Mediterranean shore on the famous Balzi Rossi of Italy’s Ligurian coast, sampling material for Aditi's Msc dissertation research. Her project aims to provide new dates of the Middle and Upper Palaeolithic transition on this site, applying Thermoluminescence (TL) on heated flints and Optically Stimulated Luminescence (OSL) dating method on sediments.
Riparo Mochi (to the right above the railway track on the picture adjacent) is one of the most important early Upper Palaeolithic sites on the Mediterranean rim. PalaeoChron is working at the site with our collaborator and chief excavator, Dr. Stefano Grimaldi (Laboratorio “Bagolini”, Università degli studi di Trento, Italy) and his team. The deposit consists of 9 macro-units related to the Upper Palaeolithic (Units A to G), a semi-sterile deposit (Unit H), and then the Mousterian (Unit I), which is about 5 m thick.
A series of radiometric dates on marine shells bearing traces of human modification has provided a chronological framework of the final Mousterian and the very early Proto Aurignacian of the site (Douka et al., 2012). Based on the modeling results, the Mousterian end (Unit I) was dated between 44 and 41.8 ka cal BP (68.2% prob.) and the Protoaurignacian (Unit G) at ~37 ka BP or 42.7-41.6 ka cal BP (68.2%), which appears to be the oldest dated Aurignacian assemblage in Italy. The sequence continues upwards with a more evolved Aurignacian phase dating to around 33 ka BP and a Gravettian phase starting at 26 ka BP or earlier (Douka et al., 2012).
Given the very limited number of available material for radiocarbon dating from the final Mousterian levels, we have decided to obtain samples for new TL and OSL dating.
Aditi (above) and Marine obtained datable material from the Mousterian to the evolved Aurignacian phases with the help and collaboration our Italian colleagues; Stefano, Fabio Santaniello (Istituto Italiano di Paleontologia Umana, Anagni, Italy, Fabio is working on the site for his PhD) and Giovanni Boschian (a geoarchaeologist from the Dipartimento di Scienze Archeologiche, Università di Pisa, Italy).
In the picture to the right you can see Aditi is sampling underneath a dark canopy designed to avoid any light coming into the sediments being sampled for OSL dating.
Below; the team takes a break.