He concluded that they belonged to a Roman-era witch or prostitute.“He did a good job of excavating, but he interpreted it totally wrong,” says Tom Higham, a 46-year-old archaeological scientist at the University of Oxford's Radiocarbon Accelerator Unit.
Beside a slab of trilobites, in a quiet corner of Britain's Oxford University Museum of Natural History, lies a collection of ochre-tinted human bones known as the Red Lady of Paviland.
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.
However, because of severe dating problems which are seldom mentioned, this alleged sequence cannot be maintained.
To present the fossil evidence as a relatively smooth transition leading to modern humans is akin to intellectual dishonesty.
The method was developed by Willard Libby in the late 1940s and soon became a standard tool for archaeologists.