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Posted by / 26-Dec-2019 13:29

Take the extinction of Neanderthals, which occurred in western Europe less than 30,000 years ago.

Archaeologists vehemently disagree over the effects changing climate and competition from recently arriving humans had on the Neanderthals' demise.

Carbon dating is used to work out the age of organic material — in effect, any living thing.

The technique hinges on carbon-14, a radioactive isotope of the element that, unlike other more stable forms of carbon, decays away at a steady rate.

Theories about the correct dates for events in the ancient world have been debated for centuries.

Even modern archaeology experiences disagreements over what the timelines for different periods should look like.

Since 1949, the process of carbon dating has become widely (if not universally) accepted to the point where it has supposedly settled many of those dating disputes.

Climate records from a Japanese lake are set to improve the accuracy of the dating technique, which could help to shed light on archaeological mysteries such as why Neanderthals became extinct.The carbon dates made the samples appear older than they really were.Manning noted in the Chronicle that, “Scholars working on the early Iron Age and Biblical chronology in Jordan and Israel are doing sophisticated projects with radiocarbon age analysis, which argue for very precise findings. But our work indicates that it’s arguable their fundamental basis is faulty – they are using a calibration curve that is not accurate for this region.”Carbon dating utilizes a very exact process present in nature to come up with its results.The researchers collected roughly 70-metre core samples from the lake and painstakingly counted the layers to come up with a direct record stretching back 52,000 years.Preserved leaves in the cores — “they look fresh as if they’ve fallen very recently”, Bronk Ramsey says — yielded 651 carbon dates that could be compared to the calendar dates of the sediment they were found in.

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But that assumes that the amount of carbon-14 in the atmosphere was constant — any variation would speed up or slow down the clock.

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