Methods of dating archaeological findings

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A team from The University of Manchester and The University of Edinburgh has discovered a new technique which they call 'rehydroxylation dating' that can be used on fired clay ceramics like bricks, tile and pottery.Working with The Museum of London, the team has been able to date brick samples from Roman, medieval and modern periods with remarkable accuracy.Organisms take in carbon-14 naturally while they are alive, but when they die, they stop absorbing it.Carbon-14 has a half-life of 5,000 years, so it slowly decays and its frequency declines as the organic material is buried.

Due to technological necessity, more complex artifacts are newer than simpler artifacts, so often an artifact can be dated simply by looking the materials and process used to make it.To accurately determine this, each layer of soil must be removed, a process known as extraction, during the archaeological dig.The business of archeology is done in an extremely careful manner in order to provide the most accurate results; this is often very time consuming and can last days, months, or even years.The sample is then monitored in a super-accurate measuring device known as a microbalance, to determine the precise rate at which the ceramic will combine with water over time.Using the time law, it is possible to extrapolate the information collected to calculate the time it will take to regain the mass lost on heating – revealing the sample's age.

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