E&ES > Geography > Research projects > Radiocarbon Palaeolithic Europe Database

Radiocarbon Palaeolithic Europe Database v20

Theme: The Palaeolithic of Europe
PI: Pierre M. Vermeersch


14C, Radiocarbon, Palaeolithic, Database, Europe

Research abstract:

At the Berlin INQUA Congress (1995) a working group, European Late Pleistocene Isotopic Stages 2 & 3: Humans, Their Ecology & Cultural Adaptations, was established. One of the objectives was building a database of the human occupation of Europe during this period. The database has been enlarged and now includes Lower, Middle and Upper Palaeolithic sites connecting them to their environmental conditions and the available chronometric dating.

The database can be consulted in open access at following site: Radiocarbon Palaeolithic Europe Database v20 at following URL address: http://ees.kuleuven.be/geography/projects/14c-palaeolithic/download/.

We have collected the available dates from literature and from other more restricted databases. We try to incorporate newly published chronometric dates collected from all kind of available publications. See list of journals inspected in downloadable file "inspected-journals.xls".

The database contains now 12359 site forms, (most of them with their geographical coordinates), comprising 12968 data: Conv. 14C and AMS 14C (11180items), TL (840 items), OSL (330 items), ESR, Th/U and AAR (890 items) from the European (Russian Siberia included) Lower, Middle and Upper Palaeolithic. All 14C dates are conventional dates BP.

The database uses Microsoft Access ©. After downloading, you can use the database with following procedure:

For citation, please use:
Vermeersch, P.M., 2016. Radiocarbon Palaeolithic Europe Database, Version 20. Available at: http://ees.kuleuven.be/geography/projects/14c-palaeolithic/index.html.

Open in Browse Modus

Click Open in Browse Modus.

Place the pointer on the name of the site in GENERAL INFORMATION

Place the pointer on the name of the site in GENERAL INFORMATION (1) and select find (2).

To add a new form, open in append mode

Write the name of the site you are looking for (3), select in Match "Any Part of the Field", Enter or Find Next.

The Form of the site will appear on your screen.

To add a new form, open in append mode, click as indicated and fill the form.

Take care to first fill in the name of the provider in the first part of the form; only later fill in the name of the site. Take care to fill in completely the geographical coordinates (when not complete, do not use the space).


General Remarks

The present database adheres to the methods and restrictions put forward by the Cambridge Stage 3 Project, which includes nearly 1900 dates. However, some remarks should be taken into account:

  • The database is put in a Microsoft Access 2007© file. This file is rather complex. However, it is easy to copy a query into a Microsoft Excel© file.
    Microsoft Access
  • The basic item for a single site form of the database is a layer or a horizon from a specific site.
  • The different chronometric dates from a specific layer are grouped into a single form. In the space for sample information a reference to the grid square in the site can be mentioned.
  • 9500 BP is normally the upper limit for a date to be included in the database.
  • We have avoided accents in the site names. Transcription from languages like Russian has often several forms because in the literature different transcriptions are used. We try to incorporate the different transcriptions.
  • If our source has a map of the site(s), we use Google Earth for a more precise location of the site and for the determination of longitude and latitude. When no details are available, the coordinates of the centre of the village where the site is situated, are used. We use Google Earth coordinates because the picture gives possibilities to understand the site environment.  As Google Earth is available to the general public it is seems better to use this position rather than the “real geographic coordinates”
  • When different cultural attributions are given in the literature, all of them will be given.
  • Unreliable results can be indicated (In the remarks a reason can be given).
  • The environmental data are still very restricted but we hope to fill the gap.
  • Each radiometric date is given as such. It is not our purpose to evaluate the date. A poor dating procedure (e.g. too small sample, or incomplete treatment of the sample) can be mentioned. The database is sometimes reduced to basic information because other information we are looking for is not yet available or not found or not yet recorded.
  • The literature reference is mainly the contribution that has furnished the data.

All suggestions and corrections are welcome ( ) and will be incorporated in a new version which, we hope to make available once a year. Next version (v.21) will be available early 2017.

A form that can be opened for immediate use in Google Earth is the *.kml file "palaeolithic-database-v20.kml" which will give you the possibility to introduce (by file open) in Google Earth the whole site list in "My Places".

For colleagues mainly interested in a list of all chronometric dates an excel list is available: “radiocarbon-palaeolithic-europe-database-v20-all-dates.xls"


Frequently asked questions

Use the already prepared "queries" (consult the long list already available), or adapt them to your own use. A query can easily be copied after "Edit", "Select All Records", "Copy". Paste into a MS-Excel form.

  • How can I build a list of all 14C and AMS with the site identification and the geographical coordinates?

    Best is to proceed by copying the data of the query "INQUA-View-all-14C" and put it in an Excel file.
    Sort the excel file by "ch-ams-age".
    In that file you delete the superfluous rows, which don't contain 14C data.

    Copy the data of the query "INQUA-View-all-AMS" and proceed in the same way as above by deleting also the superfluous rows, which don't contain 14C data.

    Put both files together and save.
    You obtain the requested file (list of all 14C and AMS), which you can use for mapping or for any other purpose.

    You should take in account that some of the data will be duplicated in your file. For map plotting, this is not a problem as the points will coincide in your map.
  • How can I build a list of all sites, even if no chronological data for some sites are available?

    Open the query "site and coord". All 8200 sites are listed with their coordinates.
  • How put the data on a map?

    Use a GIS programme such as MapInfo©, or other similar programs. Use a Microsoft Excel© file for introducing your data. An example of a map of the Dordogne sites is as follows:
    Dordogne sites
    If you have the possibility of joining Google Earth and your Gis, you can create maps such as this
    Joining Google Earth and Gis
    or the whole of Europe
    Joining Google Earth and Gis
    or you can even add the site names
    Joining Google Earth and Gis - site names
  • How use a blank form?

    Download a blank and complete the form. Take care to first fill in the name of the provider in the first part of the form; only later fill in the name of the site.
  • Creating a new query?

    Best approach to create a new query is to start from an already existing query. Open such a query in "design view". Adapt the "field" and "table" and eventually the "criteria". Save as "another query".

We are aware that many errors still occur in the database. This is due to errors we have introduced in compiling the data or in errors that we took over from the literature. It occurs e.g. that a specific lab-reference has two different results.

We would greatly appreciate if you agree to invest some time in providing information on newly available dates by filling in a blank form (one form for each layer of a site) found on the web site. The submitted dates will be incorporated as soon as possible into the database and will be available to all bona fide researchers in the next version of the database. Off-prints of contributions containing useful information for the database are also welcome. We will extract the data and put them in the database.

Our purpose is to continue the construction of the database, making corrections and improvements on each form and adding new forms. Final goal is a reliable database of the chronometric data of  the European Palaeolithic (Asian Russia included)..

We hope the database will be helpful and we thank you very much for your collaboration


Prehistoric Archaeology Unit, Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences
KU Leuven
Celestijnenlaan 200E
B-3001 Leuven - Belgium