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Indirect dating archaeology

How Does Radiocarbon Dating Work?, Instant Egghead #28

  • Types of dating methods in archaeology
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The most common forms of radiometric dating are carbon, potassium-argon, and thorium, although some archaeologists will also make use of radium-strontium, lead-alpha age, and spontaneous fission-track radiometric dating. Radiometric dating techniques can be used on any object if the original amount of radioactive isotope, the current amount of radioactive isotope, and the rate of radioactive decay of the radioactive isotope is known.

Carbon dating, which is based on the decay of carbon 14, with a half-life of years, to nitrogen through beta-decay, measures the age of an organic object using the ratio of carbon to indirect dating archaeology that remains in the object.

Although carbon dating is fairly accurate, since the concentration of carbon in the atmosphere to carbon has varied over time due to changes in the earth's magnetic field, alterations in solar activity, and the industrial activities of humansdates may only be off by a few decades for more recent objects and dates for objects tens of thousands of years old can be off by as much as 5, years, especially if the sample was contaminated by percolating ground water, for instance.

One advantage of the carbon method, which was one of the first radiometric dating methods developed, is that only a handful of charcoal, burned bone, shell, hair, wood, or other organic substance is required for laboratory analysis. When it was invented, it allowed the direct dating of small and valuable items such as bone tools, wooden artifacts, papyri, and human fossils for the first time. Perhaps the most common radiometric dating technique is potassium-argon dating.

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Indirect dating archaeology

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