Basalt Landscape in N Turkey


Unravelling our past: New VSL geochronometer to date the full evolution of genus Homo

VENI project by Dr. C. Ankjærgaard


The field of human evolution lacks generally-applicable dating techniques which are able to cover the full evolution of the genus Homo within the past 2.5 million years (Figure 1). Available methods have a limited time range (OSL, radiocarbon) or are applicable only in very specific settings (U-Pb, Ar/Ar, U-Th). As a consequence, key questions to when hominins migrated out of Africa and when they arrived into Europe remain unanswered.


During this Veni project, I aim to develop a new dating method using violet stimulated luminescence (VSL) from sedimentary quartz. This method has recently been demonstrated to have potential for extending the age range to 2.5 million years. The main challenge in using VSL for dating is to investigate and understanding the limited knowledge of the physical processes inside quartz during violet stimulation, hampering the development of this method in becoming a reliable geochronometer. From these findings a protocol for VSL dating will be adjusted and validated using known-age samples and ultimately address and answer long-standing questions of our human evolutionary past.

Start project: December 2013
End project: December 2016

Partners and collaborators:

  • Netherlands Centre for Luminescence Dating
  • Leiden University
  • Techincal University of Denmark
  • VU Amsterdam
  • Geological Survey of Israel


Please contact me if you need any information about my project (see contact details above).