Radiocarbon Dating in Archeology

Radiocarbon Dating in Archeology

Keywords radio carbon dating radiocarbon dating

The science of archaeology has undeniably enriched mankinds history and has helped to quench the quest to understand our past cultures in a better way Understanding the age and period of existence of the excavated fossils and other organic objects will help the archaeologist to unravel human history and evolution in a scrupulous manner Taylor 24 Archaeologists utilize one of the revolutionary methods called the radio carbon dating to determine the approximate age of the organic materials including plant and animal parts up to 50000 years Long

Radiocarbon dating technique is primarily based on the radioactive decay of Carbon14 isotope Developed by a team of researchers under the leadership of Dr Willard Libby this technique had revolutionized the way the archaeological advancements are made in learning about the past civilization and cultures changes occurred in the earth and in its climate Radiocarbon dating enable archaeologists to provide proof of authenticity to the excavated artifacts period of usage and thus by collaborating with the efforts with historians and anthropologists the unwritten history can be precisely explained

Significance

Desmond Clark 1979 opinions that if radio carbon dating technique were not discovered we would still be foundering in a sea of imprecisions sometime bred of inspired guesswork but more often of imaginative speculation Clark 19797 According to Higham 1999 C14 method can be described as the radio carbon revolution which has significantly impacted our understanding about evolution and also cultural emergence of human species Taylor 1987 suggests C14 technique as one of the most significant discoveries of 20thcentury that touches the realms of many disciplines including archaeology Prior to the development of radiocarbon dating it was difficult to determine the age of the artifacts unless it was accompanied with some chronologically specific things like a coin Otherwise archaeologists had to resort t to the method of relative dating where by comparing with stratigraphically close objects objects which are buried at the same depth will be approximately of the same era clue regarding the time period and historical styles were assumed or rather guesstimated But the advent of carbon14 dating tools has opened up the new scope of absolute dating where scientists could predict the age of excavated artifacts and objects with great precision up to 50000 years old For example if a tree was found to be used in an excavated piece of architecture by determining the age of the tree or the period when the tree was cut down for construction the era to which the excavated architecture exactly belongs can be estimated Michels J W

The Method of Carbon14 Technique

Archaeologists rely on the various radiometric dating techniques based on the radioactive properties of unstable chemical atoms to determine the age of the materials

Researchers from the field of Physics have discovered that radioactive molecules are unstable and they undergo decay to attain a stable structure at a specific rate which is directly determined by the atomic number and mass of the decaying atom Polach HA and Currie LA Based on this constant of the radioisotope of carbon 14C or carbon 14 the age of the organic material is assessed In the biosphere carbon14 is created by the collision of a neutron exited by the cosmic ray collides with a nitrogen atom The isotope of carbon thus produced is radioactive and it will undergo decay at a constant rate Berger and HE Suess The carbon isotope is also absorbed during photosynthesis by plants and reaches animal body when they consume plant parts It also reaches the organisms through respiration along with normal carbon12 It is assumed that in a living object carbon14 which undergoes decay is replaced at a steady rate The carbon dating technique takes the assumption that all livings have fairly same percentage of 14C isotope in their b

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