When did humans first arrive in Southeast Asia? – Tam Pà Ling cave

Source: The post is based on the article “When did humans first arrive in Southeast Asia? published in The Hindu on 3rd July 2023

What is the News?

Tam Pà Ling cave provided the earliest evidence of modern humans in mainland South-East Asia.

What is Tam Pà Ling cave?

Tam Pà Ling cave is located in the Annamite Mountain range in Northern Laos.

The cave features a sloping structure formed by periodic slope wash deposition.

What are the key findings made at Tam Pà Ling cave?

The excavations revealed that humans were present in the vicinity of Tam Pà Ling Cave for roughly 56,000 years.

The age of the lowest fossils found at Tam Pà Ling cave suggests modern humans arrived in this region between 86,000 and 68,000 years ago.

This has pushed back the timing of Homo sapien’s arrival in Southeast Asia.

Moreover, a tooth, estimated to be 150,000 years old, was found in the Cave, linking it to the presence of Denisovans, an extinct human relative.

What are the dating methods used at the Tam Pà Ling cave?

Luminescence dating: It is a technique that measures the last time crystalline materials, such as stones, were exposed to sunlight or heat. This technique mainly uses two minerals: quartz and feldspar.

Uranium series dating: It works by measuring uranium, and the elements into which it transforms via radioactive decay within the tooth. 

Electron spin resonance dating: It relies on measuring the number of electrons in tooth enamel.

Micromorphology: It is a technique that examines sediments under a microscope to establish the integrity of the layers that buried the fossils.

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