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This portable carbon-dating device is going to revolutionise field archaeology

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posted on Apr, 6 2015 @ 08:55 AM
Seams like science has made available what has always been a dream for archeologist: A portable carbon dating device. Now field archeologist will have the possibility to carbon date sites, objects on the spot.

The ability to date whatever you like, wherever you like, is the archaeologist’s dream. And it looks like a new carbon-dating technique is about to help make that dream come true.

It seems that DigVentures weren’t the only ones promoting groundbreaking innovation last week. 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.

Developed by the University of Liverpool, the new technique uses a Quadrupole Mass Spectrometer, which will reduce the time it takes to get carbon-dating results from a number of weeks to just a couple of days. Even better than that, it can be used on site without needing to send samples away.

The science

Carbon dating determines the age of archaeological objects, or how long ago a creature died, by measuring the amount of Carbon -14 remaining inside. The method is based on the theory that every living organism contains a small but constant proportion of this radioactive carbon isotope.

When the organism dies the C-14 is no longer replaced and that which remains decays at a constant rate. The time it takes for one half of a radioactive isotope to decay is known as its ‘half-life. By knowing the half-life of C-14 and estimating how many C-14 atoms the organism contained before it died, we can calculate the age of an object or creature at time of death.

posted on Apr, 6 2015 @ 10:20 AM
a reply to: Telos

Well, most digs are done after extensive research, mapping and laying out datums and what not to get a good idea of what they are going up against, usually a few test holes are dug to determine where to dig, or a thorough search of an area is done.

The whole point of a dig isn't to determine the age of objects found right there and then, it's to gather data on where objects are found in relation to where other objects before have been found or where the research suggest they should be found.
Once all artifacts have been uncovered, mapped out in the units, sifted, bagged, etc. they are brought to a lab, cleaned, tagged, and put into a catalog, they are then usually bagged again and sent to a storage facility where they are sorted in various drawers and cabinets, and such.
Only then they will go through significant findings to properly date the artifact. But 9 times out of 10 by time it gets to that point it's already been dated through methods like stratigraphy, cross relation to previous findings, document research etc.

The main issue with C14 is that you need to be in a controlled environment so contamination can't happen, if you did this in the field it'll have a certain degree of false readings.
It'll be sometime before the tight knit community of archaeologists accept this, I've volunteered on a few digs and so far all seem to stick to conventional methods.


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