Archaeological dating methods

Looking at the graph, 100% of radiocarbon in a sample will be reduced to 50% after 5730 years.In 11,460 years, half of the 50% will remain, or 25%, and so on.As long as there is organic material present, radiocarbon dating is a universal dating technique that can be applied anywhere in the world.It is good for dating for the last 50,000 years to about 400 years ago and can create chronologies for areas that previously lacked calendars.There are two techniques for dating in archaeological sites: relative and absolute dating.

Excavations reveal a complex assemblage of channel and floodplain deposits.Fluvial deposits can provide excellent archives of early hominin activity but may be complex to interpret, especially without extensive geochronology.The Stone Age site of Kalambo Falls, northern Zambia, has yielded a rich artefact record from dominantly fluvial deposits, but its significance has been restricted by uncertainties over site formation processes and a limited chronology.After an organism dies, the radiocarbon decreases through a regular pattern of decay. The time taken for half of the atoms of a radioactive isotope to decay in Carbon-14’s case is about 5730 years.Half-lives vary according to the isotope, for example, Uranium-238 has a half-life of 4500 million years where as Nitrogen-17 has a half-life of 4.173 seconds!

Archaeological dating methods