Dating archaeological finds

21 Sep

Organic materials, such as wood and bone, can easily be dated using radiocarbon techniques, but they aren't always available or reliable.Wood tends to decompose over time, and animals often dig up bones and move them around a site.For the most part, radiocarbon dating has made a huge difference for archaeologists everywhere, but the process does have a few flaws.For example, if an object touches some organic material (like, say, your hand), it can test younger than it really is.

Aerial Reconnaissance - The technique of searching for sites and features, both cultural and natural, from the air, often using aerial photography or the human eye.

The excavator might employ relative dating, using objects located stratigraphically (read: buried at the same depth) close to each other, or he or she might compare historical styles to see if there were similarities to a previous find.

But by using these imprecise methods, archeologists were often way off.

Archaeologists have long dated sites by the visual appearance of pottery fragments found around the site.

The new analytical technique will allow archaeologists to more accurately determine the age of pottery and, by extension, the age of associated artifacts and sites.