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Place, Evolution, and Rock Art Heritage | Griffin University
Presentation: "The Timing of Human Colonization of Southeast Asia in the Late Pleistocene"


Dr. Maxime Aubert is an archaeologist and geochemist that specializes in the development and application of analytical techniques to key questions in human evolution such as the dating of rock art and hominin fossils. His research has been published in the world’s leading interdisciplinary science journal, Nature.

Rock art dating

Rock art is of global scientific importance and its accurate dating is amongst the most challenging areas of geochronology and archaeology. Dr Aubert is one of the few specialists in the world working on the development and application of cutting-edge rock art dating methods, such as high-resolution uranium-series. The accurate dating of these features provides the archaeological and environmental sciences with new opportunities to investigate the interactions between rock art, material culture, human evolution, migration and environmental changes. In particular, Dr Aubert pioneered the application of uranium-series with multi-collector ICP mass spectrometer to date milligrams of calcium carbonate associated with rock art. His research, as part of collaborative multi-national and multi-disciplinary research programs has led to the oldest rock art dates in various parts of the world. In 2014, Science magazine ranked his discovery (with Dr. Adam Brumm and Indonesian colleagues) of 40,000-year-old cave art on Sulawesi as one of the top 10 most important scientific breakthroughs of that year.

Dating fossil bones and teeth

Until recently, hominid and faunal fossils could only be directly dated by radiocarbon, limiting the range to approximately 40 thousand years. As a consequence, older fossils could not be dated and many important questions in our understanding of human evolution and faunal extinction could not be addressed. Dr Aubert is involved in the development and application of open system uranium-series dating of fossil bones and teeth and collaborates on a number of national and international projects investigating key issues in human evolution and faunal extinction. For example, he directly dated the oldest anatomically modern human (Omo Kibish 1) to a minimum of ~155-187 thousand years ago.