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To be fair, building Lego sounds like a pretty fun date to us.Here we demonstrate that magnetic susceptibility (MS) data from Scladina Cave, Belgium, provide a time–depth–climate relationship that is correlated to the marine oxygen isotopic record and thus yields a high-resolution relative dating method for sediments recovered from many archaeological sites.

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Relative dating techniques, such as magnetic secular variation or stable isotope methods, offer the potential to improve this precision, but both methods suffer from problems that make broad application to many sites impossible.

However, for most archaeological cave sites, MS measurements of cave sediments offers the potential for intra-site correlation and paleoclimate estimation.

The technique has been extended to zircon grains from sediments, using optically stimulated luminescence (OSL) techniques to measure the natural signal.

The auto-regenerated signal is only a few hundred photons and cannot be measured above background using present OSL techniques, so it is counted using the highly sensitive TL reader developed for fired zircon grains.

This is possible in protected cave environments because the MS of cave sediments results from climate processes active outside caves, which cause variations in magnetic properties of the sediments that ultimately accumulate inside caves.

Once deposited, these materials are often preserved and their stratigraphy provides a time–depth–climate signal that can be identified.

This methodology will help resolve one of the major problems facing archaeologists, namely the difficulty of acquiring absolute dates with reasonable precision for the period from 40,000 to 400,000 years or so.

The problem is that dating techniques applicable to most materials within this age range are subject to significant errors.

Therefore MS data can be used as an independent methodology, alongside conventional methods such as sedimentology and palynology, for relative age dates, and correlation within and between sites by tracing evidence of paleoclimatic change.

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