Carbon dating only

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When it comes to dating archaeological samples, several timescale problems arise.

For example, Christian time counts the birth of Christ as the beginning, AD 1 (Anno Domini); everything that occurred before Christ is counted backwards from AD as BC (Before Christ).

There are two techniques for dating in archaeological sites: relative and absolute dating.

Relative dating stems from the idea that something is younger or older relative to something else.

After an organism dies, the radiocarbon decreases through a regular pattern of decay. The time taken for half of the atoms of a radioactive isotope to decay in Carbon-14’s case is about 5730 years.

Historical documents and calendars can be used to find such absolute dates; however, when working in a site without such documents, it is hard for absolute dates to be determined.

Rodents, for example, can create havoc in a site by moving items from one context to another.

Natural disasters like floods can sweep away top layers of sites to other locations.

Looking at the graph, 100% of radiocarbon in a sample will be reduced to 50% after 5730 years.

In 11,460 years, half of the 50% will remain, or 25%, and so on.

Radiocarbon is then taken in by plants through photosynthesis, and these plants in turn are consumed by all the organisms on the planet.

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