Radiocarbon dating from 40-60ka BP at Border Cave, South Africa

Michael Ian Bird, LK Fifield, GM Santos, PB Beaumont, Y Zhou, ML Di Tada, PA Hausladen

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66 Citations (Scopus)


We present 21 radiocarbon dates on 19 charcoal samples from the sedimentary sequence preserved in Border Cave, South Africa. The background radiocarbon activity for charcoal from the cave was determined to be 0.050+/-0.018 percent modern carbon, from the analysis of a radiocarbon-dead sample from unit 5WA. Radiocarbon ages for individual samples ranged from 25.2 to > 58.2 ka BP. The error-weighted mean ages for successively older strata are 38.5 + 0.85/-0.95 ka BP for unit 1WA, 50.2 + 1.1/-1.0 ka BP for units 2BS.LR.A and 2BS.LR.B, 56.5 + 2.7/-2.0 ka BP for unit 2BS.LR.C and 59.2 + 3.4/-2.4 ka BP for unit 2WA. This radiocarbon chronology is consistent with independent chronologies derived from electron spin resonance and amino acid racemization dating. The results therefore provide further evidence that radiocarbon dating of charcoal by the ABOX-SC technique can yield reliable radiocarbon ages beyond 40 ka BP. They also imply that Border Cave 5, a modern human mandible, predates > 58.2 ka BP and that the Middle Stone Age (Mode 3)-Later Stone Age (Mode 5) transition of Border Cave was largely effected between similar to56.5 and similar to41.6ka ago. (C) 2003 Elsevier Science Ltd. All rights reserved.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)943-947
Number of pages5
JournalQuaternary Science Reviews
Issue number8/9
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2003




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