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They used pottery and other materials in sites to date 'relatively'.
They thought that sites which had the same kinds of pots and tools would be the same age.
So, after reading through this new Jenny Slate profile I'm a little verklempt.
To be honest, after reading this story, you may be overcome too, because it's about to get real up in here, y'all.
Spalding and her postdoc advisor Jonas Frisén had a hunch that a pulse of radioactive carbon created by above-ground nuclear tests during the Cold War could help solve the riddle.
“A geopolitical phenomenon—this Cold War bomb testing—has, in a way, put a date stamp on everything and everybody,” Spalding says.
Some cells, like those found in skin, hair, and the lining of the gut, are produced and discarded on a regular basis, like doodles on scrap paper. Kirsty Spalding was one of the scientists who doubted that assessment.
The bomb pulse has been declining since the 1963 above-ground test ban treaty, creating a sort of clock they could exploit.
By determining how many radioactive carbon atoms a cell contained, Spalding and Frisén hoped they could calculate its birthdate. Spalding’s curiosity eventually leading her to a slaughterhouse on the outskirts of Stockholm.
I have tried here to answer some of the frequently asked questions that I receive from students via email, as well as providing some basic information about scientific dating methods.
"Everything which has come down to us from heathendom is wrapped in a thick fog; it belongs to a space of time we cannot measure.