Archeology and carbon dating

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Potentially, archaeologists could receive results within days of taking a sample, which could have a huge impact on the way a site is interpreted, as well as help to direct the next phase of excavation.

It’s a hugely exciting prospect, and a development Dig Ventures will be following with great interest!

Current techniques used for carbon dating, such as Accelerator Mass Spectrometry, can be expensive processes and require samples to be sent away for analysis, typically taking 6 weeks or more for information to be relayed back.

Trials on samples provided by Norton Priory Museum & Gardens have been carried out, and the results when compared to traditional carbon dating methods are said to have produced “encouraging levels of agreement” – this suggests that they’re perhaps not QUITE there yet, but are nonetheless close enough to attract significant interest.

The date of the transition from the archaeological period known as Iron Age I to Iron Age IIa is a particularly hotly disputed topic, especially because the date of the transition is crucial for elucidating the history and material culture of the reigns of David and Solomon. It is generally recognized that David conquered Jerusalem in about 1000 B. Radio-carbon dating is regarded by many scholars as accurate, precise and scientific, in contrast to the old cultural-historical methods of dating archaeological strata, which the devotees of radiocarbon regard as inaccurate and intuitive.

According to the so-called high chronology, the transition occurred around 1000 or 980 B. The hope of many scholars who feel that this science-based radiocarbon research will bring the debate to its longed-for solution is, in my view, difficult to adopt.

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A new radio carbon dating technique looks set to join Digital Dig Team as one of the biggest tech innovations set to revolutionise field archaeology this year. Did they live in the archaeological period known as Iron Age I, which is archaeologically poorly documented, or in Iron Age IIa, for which more evidence is available. Faced with a date for Qeiyafa that confirms the traditional high Bible chronology, the low chronology “minimalists” now desperately argue that Qeiyafa was a Philistine fort tied to the kingdom of Gath, not a border fortress of the early Judahite state. There’s been a lot of debate around the issue of Bible chronology, which more specifically relates to the era of the reigns of David and Solomon.Like our own Digital Dig Team (which enables archaeologists to upload discoveries in 3D straight from the trenches), this new technique could transform the way field archaeologists work.The time involved and expense of taking samples would be dramatically reduced, meaning that more samples can be taken, and theoretically, more can be learned from each site.

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