Ancient history dating methods

While excavating the Palace of Knossos in the Greek island of Crete, several imported Egyptians items dated to 1500 BC were retrieved.

This, combined with several examples of Cretan pottery found in Egyptian archaeological contexts of around 1900 BC, allowed archaeologists to extend Egyptian chronology into Crete.

Although the atom of carbon normally has six neutrons in its nucleus (carbon-12), we are surrounded by a small quantity of carbon containing eight neutrons (carbon-14).

Carbon-14 is a high energy, unstable atom and tends to decay.

For an accurate reading, archaeologists have to measure the radiation level at the exact place where the sample was found in the soil.

This radiation level is not representative of the radiation level to which the sample was exposed prior to being buried, which is why TL dating has a precision of plus or minus 10 percent and it is often cross referenced with other dating methods.

Most human cultures later than 8000 BC possess a distinctive ceramic style.

Most tree species produce new wood each year, resulting in rings of growth that can be easily detected in a cross-section of its trunk.

The only way to make these calendars meaningful is to link them with our own calendar.

When two or more of these societies become in touch, we can sometimes find the same events recorded in two independent timekeeping systems, which allows us to align these different calendars.

Based on his expertise on ancient documents and biblical genealogies, the Irish Archbishop James Ussher (1581–1656) estimated that our planet was created in the morning of October 23, 4004 BC.

Our understanding of world chronology has come a long way since Ussher’s times, thanks to many of the clever dating methods we have developed.

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