Carbon dating and chemistry
Now, UK scientists have found a way to date these artefacts and thus give fresh insight into the history and construction of excavated ruins or items.
Key to the process is the knowledge that there is an ultra-slow recombination of moisture in fired-clay ceramic objects as they chemically combine with moisture from the air, and that this ’rehydroxylation’ process occurs at a predictable rate once an object is fired.
It decays with a half life of 5700 years into nitrogen 14 and electron and an electron antineutreno. So for that reason, every living thing that is interacting with its environment is expected to have this natural abundance of carbon 14. But when something dies, now it's not interacting with the environment anymore. We know that the amount at time t is equal to the initial amount times one half to the time over the half life, alright?
So this is just an ordinary beta decay process and this carbon fourteen's half life is way way way too short for any carbon to just kind of exist naturally in the atmosphere, you'd think, not quite right. So that mean that 1.3 times 10 to the -12 carbon 14 atoms, exist for each and every carbon 12 atom in nature. So you'd think that if you got this 1.3 times 10 to the -12 carbon 14 atoms for each carbon 12 atom at some time, well then 5700 years later, half of the carbon 14 will have decayed. But in fact what happens is, cosmic rays from the sun interact with the upper atmosphere and they actually create carbon 14, at this rate so that in equilibrium, 1.3 times 10 to the -12 carbon 14 atoms will exist for every carbon 12 atom. It's no longer replenishing its carbon 14 supply. This is our standard radioactive decay formula, always works.
No other scientific method has managed to revolutionize man’s understanding not only of his present but also of events that already happened thousands of years ago.
A new way to find the age of ceramic objects, such as ancient pottery, has been developed by scientists in the UK.
The technique measures how much water the items have absorbed since they were fired - simply and accurately revealing when they were made.
well, us.‘The great breakthrough in Quaternary archaeology was radiocarbon dating,’ Walker says.
Developed by Willard Libby in the 1940s – and winning him the Nobel prize in chemistry in 1960 – the basic principle of radiocarbon dating is simple: living things exchange carbon with their environment until they die.
Broken pottery, brickwork or tiles are unearthed at almost every archaeological dig site, but they are often of little use to archaeologists as determining how old they are is difficult.