Radiocarbon dating human bones

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Desmond Clark (1979:7) observed that without radiocarbon dating "we would still be foundering in a sea of imprecisions sometime bred of inspired guesswork but more often of imaginative speculation." And as Colin Renfrew (1973) aptly noted over 30 years ago, the "Radiocarbon Revolution" transformed how archaeologists could interpret the past and track cultural changes through a period in human history where we see among other things the massive migration of peoples settling virtually every major region of the world, the transition from hunting and gathering to more intensive forms of food production, and the rise of city-states.However, as with any dating technique there are limits to the kinds of things that can be satisfactorily dated, levels of precision and accuracy, age range constraints, and different levels of susceptibility to contamination.

From now on, if you consider carbon-14 dating as the technology utilised by ancient researchers alone, you’d be mistaken.This is because plants and oceans soak up radiocarbon.It eventually funnels its way into the food chain, absorbing into plant and animal tissues, and eventually to humans.Archaeology has undoubtedly enriched mankind’s history like no other science.There is a greater part of man’s unwritten past that archaeology has managed to unravel.

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