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Author Topic: QoTw - 13.04.25 How best to date ancient artifacts?  (Read 3542 times)

Offline evan_au

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Neil and Babette McDonald wrote in with this: Historians and archaeologists talk about ancient artifacts and structures which are so many thousands of years old. How do they date these objects? Is it just from carbon dating? And did these ancient civilisations have some sort of time and date recording system in place as well?

So how best to date ancient artifacts?
The answer in our next show. Meanwhile, what do you think?


 

Offline evan_au

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Re: QoTw - 13.04.25 How best to date ancient artifacts?
« Reply #1 on: 27/04/2013 02:31:29 »
Links to a number of ancient (and some not-so-ancient) calendars are available here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_calendars#Obsolete_calendars

A method of calculating dates in the Bible is to describe "In the second year of the reign of King X...".
I imagine this method could be problematic in a far-flung empire, since it may take 6 months to discover that there is now a new king.
« Last Edit: 27/04/2013 04:45:11 by evan_au »
 

Offline JimBob

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Re: QoTw - 13.04.25 How best to date ancient artifacts?
« Reply #2 on: 28/04/2013 01:25:26 »
Carbon dating

The ancient civilizations that are predecessors of the present without any subsequent civilizations - are tied into the present by carbon dating. "The Solutrean industry is a relatively advanced flint tool-making style of the Upper Palaeolithic, from around 22,000 to 17,000 BP"  done by dating organic material in the remains
 

Offline evan_au

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Re: QoTw - 13.04.25 How best to date ancient artifacts?
« Reply #3 on: 28/04/2013 05:07:35 »
Inorganic dating: Crystal grains in pottery, lava and sediments accumulate crystal defects due to radioactivity in the material, and also from cosmic rays. This "clock" is reset when pottery is "fired", or dirt is exposed to sunlight. This energy can be released as photons by heating the sample or irradiating it with light.

By measuring the rate of radioactive decay in the sample, and estimating historical levels of cosmic rays, it is possible to obtain an estimate of the time since lava solidified, sediments were laid down, or pottery was fired. Current techniques claim an accuracy sometimes as good as 5%, for ages in the range 300-100,000 years.

This can sometimes be used as an independent way of confirming carbon dates, by dating the soil in which the organic sample was found.

See: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Optical_dating
 

Offline confusious says

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Re: QoTw - 13.04.25 How best to date ancient artifacts?
« Reply #4 on: 15/05/2013 12:38:06 »
Carbon dating.
 

Offline dlorde

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Re: QoTw - 13.04.25 How best to date ancient artifacts?
« Reply #5 on: 17/05/2013 18:49:47 »
Online dating.
 

Offline imatfaal

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Re: QoTw - 13.04.25 How best to date ancient artifacts?
« Reply #6 on: 19/05/2013 15:08:35 »
dlorde - lovely +1

Stratification - if you find something in undisturbed soil and buried under a roman mosaic you can be sure it is pre-roman.   This has become a fine art in archaeology.

Dendrochronology - measuring the pattern of growth rings in wood.  we have growth records going back 10s of thousands of years - which allow the specific arrangement of good years and lean years within a sampled piece of wood to be matched with the known historic growth.
 

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Re: QoTw - 13.04.25 How best to date ancient artifacts?
« Reply #6 on: 19/05/2013 15:08:35 »

 

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