Inscriptions, distinctive markings, and historical documents can all offer clues to an artifact's age.
And if the artifact is organic—like wood or bone—researchers can turn to a method called radiocarbon dating.
On longer timescales, the radioactive decay of C provides information on slower exchanges with the much larger stores of carbon in the deep ocean and the carbon stabilized in soils and sediments.
Radiocarbon is the best and often the only way to quantify rates of exchange of carbon among reservoirs.
This fragment no bigger than a fingernail is enough to divine whether the artefact it came from is really the Roman musical instrument its owners believe it to be.
Lab manager Dr Christine Prior already has bad news for another client – an art authenticator in Hong Kong.
It takes about an hour, and can be completed individually or in small groups.The amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere today is higher than that at any time in the last 420,000 years (figure 1).While the roughly 30% increase in CO also occurred in the past, presumably related to shifts in global climate.But she became hooked on archaeology after her parents took her as a little girl to the archaeological sites of Colorado’s Mesa Verde.Although little-feted, GNS's Rafter Radiocarbon laboratory in Lower Hutt was among the world's first to use radioactive decay to unravel history. Prior runs the half of the laboratory that cleans and distils samples down to pure elemental carbon, or graphite.CEN has the equipment and expertise to prepare samples for AMS dating, which includes 2 major steps: C of your samples can also be done.