Carbon dating zooarchaeology

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The Radiocarbon Revolution Since its development by Willard Libby in the 1940s, radiocarbon (14C) dating has become one of the most essential tools in archaeology.Radiocarbon dating was the first chronometric technique widely available to archaeologists and was especially useful because it allowed researchers to directly date the panoply of organic remains often found in archaeological sites including artifacts made from bone, shell, wood, and other carbon based materials.Chances are, right now, you have a Gregorian calendar stuck to your wall.This calendar, with the months January through December, is a business standard used in many places round the world to define the year: one which hearkens back to Christian and Roman Imperial precedents.For periods without a historic record, attempts have been made to categorize tool kits, pottery styles, and architectural forms into regional timelines.

Throughout history, time has been defined in a variety of ways: by everything from the current ruler, or empire, or not defined at all.Radiocarbon dating is especially good for determining the age of sites occupied within the last 26,000 years or so (but has the potential for sites over 50,000), can be used on carbon-based materials (organic or inorganic), and can be accurate to within ±30-50 years.Probably the most important factor to consider when using radiocarbon dating is if external factors, whether through artificial contamination, animal disturbance, or human negligence, contributed to any errors in the determinations.It is naturally unstable and so it will spontaneously decay back into N-14 after a period of time.It takes about 5,730 years for half of a sample of radiocarbon to decay back into nitrogen.These various chronologies and their inherent inconsistencies, known as ‘relative dates,’ are a constant series of hurdles in the quest of historians and archaeologists to record mankind’s existence on earth.

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