History carbon dating
When Higham eventually got the bones, his team came up with a more likely scenario: they were closer to 33,000 years old and one of the earliest examples of ceremonial burial in Western Europe.
“It is another sobering example of cocked-up dates,” says Higham, whose laboratory is leading a revolution in radiocarbon dating.
In 1823, palaeontologist William Buckland painstakingly removed the fossils from a cave in Wales, and discovered ivory rods, shell beads and other ornaments in the vicinity.
He concluded that they belonged to a Roman-era witch or prostitute.
All living things on Earth are made up of a high percentage of an element called carbon.
A very small percentage of carbon, however, consists of the isotope carbon 14, or radiocarbon, which is unstable.
Carbon 14 has a half-life of 5,780 years, and is continuously created in Earth's atmosphere through the interaction of nitrogen and gamma rays from outer space.
In 1946, Libby proposed this groundbreaking idea in the journal Physical Review.
"Everything which has come down to us from heathendom is wrapped in a thick fog; it belongs to a space of time we cannot measure.