How does archaeological dating work


When the half-life was corrected in 1950, the year was taken as a base date from which to calculate all resulting dates.Therefore, any expression of “before present” will mean “before 1950”.



This was a giant leap forward in that it offered far more accurate dates for a far smaller sample (9); this made destruction of samples a far less delicate issue to researchers, especially on artefacts such as The Shroud of Turin for which accurate dates were now possible without damaging a significant part of the artefact.The sample passes through several accelerators in order to remove as many atoms as possible until the C pass into the detector.These latter atoms are used as part of the calibration process to measure the relative number of isotopes (9).The method developed in the 1940's and was a ground-breaking piece of research that would change dating methods forever. Libby calculated the rate of radioactive decay of the C isotope (4) in carbon black powder.

As a test, the team took samples of acacia wood from two Egyptian Pharaohs and dated them; the results came back to within what was then a reasonable range: 2800BC /- 250 years whereas the earlier independent dates (largely the dendrochronology records) were 2625 /- 75 years (3), (5).

This allows researchers to account for variation by comparing the known records of C levels in the tree record, looking for a tree record that has the same proportion of radiocarbon.



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