How dating used to be

When it comes to dating archaeological samples, several timescale problems arise.

For example, Christian time counts the birth of Christ as the beginning, AD 1 (Anno Domini); everything that occurred before Christ is counted backwards from AD as BC (Before Christ).

Here’s an example using the simplest atom, hydrogen. Carbon-14 is an unstable isotope of carbon that will eventually decay at a known rate to become carbon-12.

Radiocarbon dating uses isotopes of the element carbon. Cosmic rays – high-energy particles from beyond the solar system – bombard Earth’s upper atmosphere continually, in the process creating the unstable carbon-14. Because it’s unstable, carbon-14 will eventually decay back to carbon-12 isotopes.

Absolute dating represents the absolute age of the sample before the present.

Historical documents and calendars can be used to find such absolute dates; however, when working in a site without such documents, it is hard for absolute dates to be determined.

The Greeks consider the first Olympic Games as the beginning or 776 BC.

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But when gas exchange is stopped, be it in a particular part of the body like in deposits in bones and teeth, or when the entire organism dies, the ratio of carbon-14 to carbon-12 begins to decrease.How It Works: Carbon has 3 isotopic forms: Carbon-12, Carbon-13, and Carbon-14.The numbers refer to the atomic weight, so Carbon-12 has 6 protons and 6 neutrons, Carbon-13 has 6 protons and 7 neutrons, and Carbon-14 has 6 protons and 8 neutrons.There are two techniques for dating in archaeological sites: relative and absolute dating.Relative dating stems from the idea that something is younger or older relative to something else.

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