History of archaeological dating

Radiocarbon dating was invented in the late 1940's, and within a few decades, it was discovered that while the dates retrieved from the method have a sound, repeatable progression, they are not a one-to-one match with calendar years.

Most importantly, researchers discovered that radiocarbon dates are affected by the amount of carbon in the atmosphere, which has fluctuated greatly in the past for both natural and human-caused reasons (such as the invention of iron smelting, the Industrial Revolution, and the invention of the combustion engine).

The results of their work were published in the Egyptian writing for the first time in 1822.

All this activity, however, was still not archaeology in the strict sense.

Schliemann had intended to dig in Crete but did not do so, and it was left to Egyptian archaeology began with Napoleon’s invasion of Egypt in 1798.

He brought with him scholars who set to work recording the archaeological remains of the country.

But although archaeology uses extensively the methods, techniques, and results of the physical and biological sciences, it is not a natural science; some consider it a discipline that is half science and half humanity.

Perhaps it is more accurate to say that the archaeologist is first a craftsman, practicing many specialized crafts (of which excavation is the most familiar to the general public), and then a historian.

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The artifacts he studies must often be studied in their environmental contexts, and botanists, zoologists, soil scientists, and geologists may be brought in to identify and describe plants, animals, soils, and rocks.

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