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Chances are, right now, you have a Gregorian calendar stuck to your wall.This calendar, with the months January through December, is a business standard used in many places round the world to define the year: one which hearkens back to Christian and Roman Imperial precedents.This date can then be calibrated with dendrochronology, sediment cores, and/or other dating methods to ensure maximum accuracy and account for discrepancies in the amount of carbon fourteen in the atmosphere over the past few centuries. Regardless of these issues, carbon dating is still one of the most effective tools in the archaeologist’s kit.
Throughout history, time has been defined in a variety of ways: by everything from the current ruler, or empire, or not defined at all.With all the technical terms and mathematical physics equations taken out, carbon dating sounds pretty easy right?Wrong: it involves a complex process of collecting a useful sample, dating it properly, and calibrating the scientific dates to ones recognizable in the outside world.The dates given for Rapa Nui attract particular debate as they have been used to establish the time of the migration to the island.
With carbon dating the type of sample and the placement of it within the site are very important.
Old school radiocarbon dates used to be collected using Geiger counters to establish the amount of radiation they were emitting.