Only recently (2012), we have seen the chronology of Paleolithic art and culture changed completely by Uranium/Thorium dating tests on the cave art of El Castillo and Altamira.
In addition, it seems likely that Aboriginal rock art in Australia will also - in the not too distant future - be discovered to be much older than presently thought.
Here is a list of the top 10 oldest works of Prehistoric art created during the Stone Age.
It features all the major types of Paleolithic art yet discovered, including: petroglyphs (the oldest type of cultural expression), parietal art (like cave painting, as well as hand stencils and other abstract signs) and also mobiliary art (like ivory carving and other portable forms of sculpture).
Thus sometimes, dating is dependent on paleontologist scholarship to provide the historical context against which an artifact's relevance and age can be assessed, through stylistic comparison with cave paintings and engravings at other archeological sites.
At present, a large variety of fossils, tools and artifacts are being studied by paleoanthropologists and other Stone Age scholars, in order to fix their date of origin.
(Hint: It¿s not just carbon-dating anymore.) These days hardly a week goes by without important discoveries concerning the history of life on Earth making headlines.
Indeed, just last month researchers described a fossil that pushes the origins of key mammal features back some 45 million years.
Fortunately, Willard Libby, a scientist who would later win the 1960 Nobel Prize in Chemistry, developed the process known as radiocarbon dating in the late 1940s. In a nutshell, it works like this: After an organism dies, it stops absorbing carbon-14, so the radioactive isotope starts to decay and is not replenished.The ratio of radiocarbon to stable carbon in an organism depends on the environment until death, then decreases predictably over time. By measuring this ratio, we can calculate the age of a sample. But radiocarbon comprises only about one trillionth of the carbon in living organisms. Painstaking work is required to isolate and measure only the original sample carbon and produce a reliable radiocarbon date, one that is scientifically accurate and numerically precise. At Aeon Laboratories, we pursue this goal with innovative proprietary technology, the skill and discipline required to execute exacting procedures, and a thorough understanding of chemical and biological principles. The first step toward accurately measuring geologic time came at the turn of the 20th century, when French physicist Henry Becquerel discovered the natural radioactive decay of uranium.Shortly thereafter, building on related work by Ernest Rutherford, American chemist Bertram Borden Boltwood determined that he could use the predictable decay of radioactive elements such as uranium into other elements to keep track of time.