Age control of the first appearance datum for Javanese Homo erectus in the Sangiran area

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Science  10 Jan 2020:
Vol. 367, Issue 6474, pp. 210-214
DOI: 10.1126/science.aau8556

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Dating the arrival of the first hominins in Java

The World Heritage archaeological site at Sangiran on the island of Java in Indonesia has major importance for the understanding of human arrival and evolution in Asia. However, the timing of the first appearance of Homo erectus at the site has been controversial. Using a combination of dating techniques for hominin-bearing sediments, Matsu'ura et al. resolved the arrival of H. erectus at ∼1.3 million years ago (see the Perspective by Brasseur). This dating suggests that the earliest hominins in Sangiran are at least 200,000 years younger than has been thought and may represent an important step to the resolution of the controversy.

Science, this issue p. 210; see also p. 147


The chronology of the World Heritage Site of Sangiran in Indonesia is crucial for the understanding of human dispersals and settlement in Asia in the Early Pleistocene (before 780,000 years ago). It has been controversial, however, especially regarding the timing of the earliest hominin migration into the Sangiran region. We use a method of combining fission-track and uranium-lead dating and present key ages to calibrate the lower (older) Sangiran hominin-bearing horizons. We conclude that the first appearance datum for the Sangiran hominins is most likely ~1.3 million years ago and less than 1.5 million years ago, which is markedly later than the dates that have been widely accepted for the past two decades.

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