Time is relative. Different cultures around the world record time in different fashions. According to the Gregorian calendar, it is the year AD. But according to the Hebrew calendar it is Chances are, right now, you have a Gregorian calendar stuck to your wall. This calendar, with the months January through December, is a business standard used in many places round the world to define the year: one which hearkens back to Christian and Roman Imperial precedents.
The most important archaeological dating method is radiocarbon dating. It is a technique that can yield absolute dates with accuracy up to approximately years before present. However its application has caused extreme confusion and misunderstanding of the archaeological record. Knowing the limitations of this dating method can help avoid colossal archaeological misinterpretations that would otherwise distort history. Carbon Everywhere Radiocarbon or C14 dating employs complex systems of measuring the unstable isotopes in once living matter. There are three forms of carbon that naturally occur forming the building blocks of all plant and animal life.
When it comes to dating archaeological samples, several timescale problems arise. The Mayan calendar used BC as their reference. More recently is the radiocarbon date of AD or before present, BP. There are two techniques for dating in archaeological sites: relative and absolute dating. Relative dating stems from the idea that something is younger or older relative to something else.
Prior to the development of radiocarbon dating , it was difficult to tell when an archaeological artifact came from. Unless something was obviously attributable to a specific year -- say a dated coin or known piece of artwork -- then whoever discovered it had to do quite a bit of guesstimating to get a proper age for the item. The excavator might employ relative dating, using objects located stratigraphically read: buried at the same depth close to each other, or he or she might compare historical styles to see if there were similarities to a previous find. But by using these imprecise methods, archeologists were often way off. Fortunately, Willard Libby, a scientist who would later win the Nobel Prize in Chemistry, developed the process known as radiocarbon dating in the late s.