These various chronologies and their inherent inconsistencies, known as ‘relative dates,’ are a constant series of hurdles in the quest of historians and archaeologists to record mankind’s existence on earth.
However, in the 1940s, the organization of time was transformed by the revelation of radiometric dating and the subsequent creation of a scientific chronology of humankind, known as ‘absolute dating’.
While the methodological sequence was in general successful and some artefact residues were dated within the anticipated age range, difficulties were encountered with other lithic residues.
Some artefact residues attained AMS dates which appear to be affected by modern contaminants and other residue radiocarbon dates were seemingly affected by fossil shell derived from flint stone, plasticizers or from a fixative substance older than the fabrication and use of the artefact.
How do you find out if it’s the remains of an ancient animal that stomped the land tens of thousands of years ago or a discarded scrap from a cooking fire only a few hundred years back?
An archaeologist’s staple is radiocarbon dating: judging the age of an organic sample from its carbon-14 – also known as radiocarbon – content.
The theory behind radiocarbon dating is as follows: Why doesn't the carbon-14 in the air decay along with terrestrial carbon? The trick is that radioactive carbon-14 is continually replenished in a complex reaction that involves high-energy cosmic rays striking the upper atmosphere.
In this process, nitrogen-14 (7 protons and 7 neutrons) gains a neutron and loses a proton, producing carbon-14 (6 protons and 8 neutrons).
Radiocarbon dating—also known as carbon-14 dating—is a technique used by archaeologists and historians to determine the age of organic material.
It can theoretically be used to date anything that was alive any time during the last 60,000 years or so, including charcoal from ancient fires, wood used in construction or tools, cloth, bones, seeds, and leather.
Following death, however, no new carbon is consumed.
Progressively through time, the carbon-14 atoms decay and once again become nitrogen-14.
As a result, there is a changing ratio of carbon-14 to the more atomically stable carbon-12 involves actually counting individual carbon-14 atoms.