Speleothems are important timekeepers of Earth’s climate history. A key advantage of speleothems is that they can be dated using U–Th techniques. Mass spectrometric methods for measuring U and Th isotopes has led to vast improvements in measurement precision and a dramatic reduction in sample size. As a result, the timing of past climate, environment, and Earth system changes can be investigated at exceptional temporal precision. In this review, we summarize the principles and history of U–Th dating of speleothems. Finally, we highlight three studies that use U–Th dated speleothems to investigate past changes to the Asian monsoon, constrain the timing of sociopolitical change in ancient civilizations, and develop a speleothem-based calibration of the 14C timescale.

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