The World Heritage Thematic Programme, Human Evolution: Adaptations, Dispersals and Social Developments (HEADS), collaborated with the UNESCO Science Sector in the organization of the 21st International Radiocarbon Conference, held from 9 to 13 July 2012, at UNESCO Headquarters.

Nuria Sanz, General Coordinator of the HEADS Programme at the World Heritage Centre, and Prof. Nicholas Conard participated in the Scientific Committee and presented two papers at the Conference, one during the session ‘Radiocarbon and Archaeology of the Americas and Oceania: Improving Chronologies and Theoretical Insights’ and the second, during the session ‘Radiocarbon dating and the Palaeolithic’. This opportunity proved to be significant in raising awareness of the HEADS Programme among the Scientific Community.

Some key points about the Conference: The 21st edition of this important International Radiocarbon Conference was celebrated for the first time in its 50 year history in France. The event, held every three years, received its maximum number of participants to date, increasing the previous record by 150 attendees. Participants attended from all over the globe, including two very large delegations from France and the USA (75 and 65 representatives respectively) and also many different countries spanning the globe such as Niger, Mexico, Korea, Egypt, Korea, Japan, Niger and New Zealand.

At the 2012 Radiocarbon Conference, the fascinating scientific programme was set by 63 conveners in order to maximize innovative research. 20 sessions were held in total comprising of traditional sessions (calibration, archaeology, ocean sciences and palaeoenvironmental studies) and new sessions (including among others, 14C tracers of life, unusual applications of 14C -forensic, certification, etc.-, 14C tracers of human activities, 14C and models). 513 abstracts were submitted, 1.6 times that of its usual volume. 146 presentations and 365 poster presentations were given.