carbon dating clay pots
Cassette tapes or eight-tracks might be the first things that come to carbon dating clay pots when thinking about dated magnetic storage, but Bronze Age clay pottery has them both beat. Carbon dating is a widely-used technique for determining the age of archaeological discoveries, but the method only works on artifacts made from carbon-containing organic matter, like wood or cotton.
For clay pottery, archaeomagnetic specialist Michele Stillinger of the University of Minnesota, Minneapolis showed that a magnetic method might work. The key is that the clays contain magnetic minerals, like hematite and magnetite. These mineral compasses were pointed in random directions before the pots were put inside a kiln. When the pottery cooled, this alignment was frozen in place, preserving information about the geomagnetic field. Today, Stillinger can take these samples to her lab and reheat them slowly.
By applying a well-defined magnetic field, she and her colleagues observe carbon dating clay pots the compasses within the clay reorient with the new field at different temperatures. Scientists are currently working on plots that show this field strength over the last several millennia in different regions around the globe, but they must incorporate other dating techniques to corroborate their findings.
Shaar presented a poster that detailed his investigation of the historical geomagnetic field in the Levant, a region in the Middle East. He is part of carbon dating clay pots team carbon dating clay pots to identify the age of a variety of artifacts with an array of techniques, including carbon dating and tree-ring dating. The group has already made nearly 72, such measurements. A curve would help Stillinger and others determine the age of artifacts with greater accuracy. But he said they must continue generating new data to make this method reliable.
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