Stone tools to skeletons: how to uncover an ancient object’s age

In his latest explainer, Jake Port explores a few of the techniques in an archaeologist’s and palaeontologist’s toolkit to date samples from thousands to billions of years old

When a piece of bone, spearhead or rock is dug from the ground, a long process begins to work out where it came from and how it got there. An important part of this investigation is determining the age of the specimen, for which there is a wide array of dating methods available. If you want to know the precise age of something, absolute dating techniques are the only option. They work by analysing the activity of elements and their decay over time. Read more.

Tags: Radioisotopes Archaeology carbon-14 carbon-12 Potassium-40 argon-40 potassium-39 argon-39