Methods of dating artifacts
It is the only method that can be used to date rocks, pottery and minerals for dates that are approximately between 300 to 10,000 years old.
This method is based on the fact that when a material is heated or exposed to sunlight, electrons are released and some of them are trapped inside the item.
However, the stratigraphic position alone cannot tell us the exact date.
Ever since The Enlightenment, and possibly even before that, researchers have attempted to understand the chronology of the world around us, to figure out precisely when each stage in our geological, biological and cultural evolution took place.
Archaeologists are seeking an accurate dating technique, but this method is yet to be found.
Here we come to the question of how accurate the dates are that we currently have regarding the history of the human race and our planet.
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All dating methods today can be grouped into one of two categories: .
The isotope of Potassium-40, which has a half-life of 1.25 Billion years, can be used for such long measurements.
Another absolute dating method is thermoluminescence, which dates the last time an item was heated.
The former gives a numeric age (for example, this artefact is 5000 years old); the latter provides a date based on relationships to other elements (for example, this geological layer formed before this other one).
Both methods are vital to piecing together events of the past from the recent back to a time before humans and even before complex life and sometimes, researchers will combine both methods to come up with a date.
The first method was based on radioactive elements whose property of decay occurs at a constant rate, known as the half-life of the isotope.