What is the difference between radiocarbon dating and dendrochronology
The idea behind radiocarbon dating is straightforward, but years of work were required to develop the technique to the point where accurate dates could be obtained.
Research has been ongoing since the 1960s to determine what the proportion of in the atmosphere has been over the past fifty thousand years.
Analyzing the pattern of a tree's rings provides information about the environmental changes that took place during the period in which it was growing.
Matching the pattern in trees whose age is known to the pattern in wood found at an archaeological site can establish the age at which the wood was cut and thus the approximate date of the site.
By comparing living trees with old lumber and finding overlapping ring patterns, scientists have established chronological records for some species that go back as far as 9,000 years.
Radiocarbon dating works by comparing the three different isotopes of carbon.
The Conversation UK receives funding from Hefce, Hefcw, SAGE, SFC, RCUK, The Nuffield Foundation, The Ogden Trust, The Royal Society, The Wellcome Trust, Esmée Fairbairn Foundation and The Alliance for Useful Evidence, as well as sixty five university members.
View the full list Radiocarbon dating has transformed our understanding of the past 50,000 years.
The resulting radiocarbon combines with atmospheric oxygen to form radioactive carbon dioxide, which is incorporated into plants by photosynthesis; animals then acquire in a sample from a dead plant or animal such as a piece of wood or a fragment of bone provides information that can be used to calculate when the animal or plant died.
The older a sample is, the less (the period of time after which half of a given sample will have decayed) is about 5,730 years, the oldest dates that can be reliably measured by this process date to around 50,000 years ago, although special preparation methods occasionally permit accurate analysis of older samples.
As archaeological dating techniques go, dendrochronology is extremely precise: if the growth rings in a wooden object are preserved and can be tied into an existing chronology, researchers can determine the precise calendar year--and often season--the tree was cut down to make it.