New carbon dating method

Scientists have developed a new method to determine the age of ancient mummies, old artwork, and other relics without causing damage to these treasures of global cultural heritage.

Reporting at the 239th National Meeting of the American Chemical Society (ACS), they said it could allow scientific analysis of hundreds of artifacts that until now were off limits because museums and private collectors did not want the objects damaged.

Scientists have developed a first-of-its-kind method for determining the age of ancient artifacts without causing damage to the objects.

The method could help shed new light on the history of mummified bodies, old maps, cave paintings, and other treasures, they say.

Organisms capture a certain amount of carbon-14 from the atmosphere when they are alive.

Both the conventional and new carbon dating methods can determine the age of objects as far back as 45,000 to 50,000 years, Rowe said.

In conventional dating methods, scientists remove a small sample from an object, such as a cloth or bone fragment.

Conventional carbon dating estimates the age of an artifact based on its content of carbon-14 (C-14), a naturally occurring, radioactive form of carbon.

Comparing the C-14 levels in the object to levels of C-14 expected in the atmosphere for a particular historic period allows scientists to estimate the age of an artifact.

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