Open science radiocarbon databases

Last week I wrote a lot about the radiocarbon chronology of late Neandertals in Europe ("Neandertals didn't disappear before 40,000 years ago", "Neandertals of the North").

For more information about the radiocarbon dates of late Mousterian, Châtelperronian and other industries in Europe, there are several database projects that have collated date estimates from sites across the continent. These are well summarized in a current open access paper in PaleoAnthropology by Francesco d'Errico and colleagues. DErrico:PACEA:2011 (direct PDF link) That paper announces an additional radiocarbon database, called PACEA, which is available as a zip version of an Excel spreadsheet, supplemental to the article (Link to ZIP file). The article discusses several other database projects as well, some of which have open download policies.

The availability of the large database of date estimates is tremendously important for anyone attempting to make sense of the systematic errors possible for dates. For example, a plot of the data by d'Errico and colleagues shows immediately the downward bias of conventional radiocarbon dates compared to AMS dates.