A new dating scale for ancient artifacts allows you to accurately determine their age. A new radiocarbon dating technique allows you to set the exact dates for the burial of Tutankhamun and the ancient volcanic eruption on the Greek island of Santorini. This is stated in the work of scientists from Cornell University, which is published in the journal Science Advances.
Radiocarbon dating, invented in the late 1940s and has since been refined to provide more accurate measurements, is the standard method for determining dates of artifacts in archeology and other disciplines.
This method measures the decomposition of carbon-14, the unstable carbon isotope that forms in all organic substances under the influence of cosmic radiation. However, this radiation is not always constant – in order to take into account its fluctuations in the Earth’s atmosphere, scientists began to measure radiocarbon with wood calibration. The method consists in measuring the content of the isotope in a tree whose age is known from the annual rings, and then comparing these values with the test sample.
Since 1986, scientists have been using a single wood calibration scale for all artifacts in the Northern Hemisphere – including in Europe and the Mediterranean.
In a new work, researchers questioned the accuracy of a single calibration curve for the entire Northern Hemisphere. They compared radiocarbon data from northern Europe (Germany) and from the Mediterranean (central Turkey) in the second and first millennia BC. The analysis showed that between these regions there are small differences in carbon concentration, which can have a significant impact on the accuracy of dating of certain artifacts.
These differences can potentially affect the calendar dates of the prehistoric period for up to several decades, the authors conclude. The adjustment of dates, in particular, can relate to the dates of death and burial of the Egyptian pharaoh Tutankhamun, which date from about 1320-1310 years BC.