“This technique stands to revolutionize radiocarbon dating,” said Marvin Rowe, Ph. “It expands the possibility for analyzing extensive museum collections that have previously been off limits because of their rarity or intrinsic value and the destructive nature of the current method of radiocarbon dating.
Based on a discipline of geology called stratigraphy, rock layers are used to decipher the sequence of historical geological events.
Relative techniques can determine the sequence of events but not the precise date of an event, making these methods unreliable.
When museums and collectors purchase archaeological items for their collections they enter an expensive and potentially deceptive commercial fine arts arena.
Healthy profits are to be made from illicitly plundered ancient sites or selling skillfully made forgeries.
Conventional carbon dating estimates the age of an artifact based on its content of carbon-14 (C-14), a naturally occurring, radioactive form of carbon.
Comparing the C-14 levels in the object to levels of C-14 expected in the atmosphere for a particular historic period allows scientists to estimate the age of an artifact.
Relative dating in archaeology presumes the age of an artefact in relation and by comparison, to other objects found in its vicinity.
Limits to relative dating are that it cannot provide an accurate year or a specific date of use.
The half-life of C is approximately 5730 years, which is too short for this method to be used to date material millions of years old.
The isotope of Potassium-40, which has a half-life of 1.25 Billion years, can be used for such long measurements.
Although it sometimes requires taking minute samples of an object, even that damage may be unacceptable for some artifacts.