Rasmus Nyerup's quote reminds us of the tremendous scientific advances which have taken place in the 20th century.In Nyerup's time, archaeologists could date the past only by using recorded histories, which in Europe were based mainly on the Egyptian calendar.They used pottery and other materials in sites to date 'relatively'.
Relative dating webquest
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Welcome to the K12 section of the Radiocarbon WEBinfo site.
The aim here is to provide clear, understandable information relating to radiocarbon dating for the benefit of K12 students, as well as lay people who are not requiring detailed information about the method of radiocarbon dating itself.
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.
We know that it is older than Christendom, but whether by a couple of years or a couple of centuries, or even by more than a millenium, we can do no more than guess." [Rasmus Nyerup, (Danish antiquarian), 1802 (in Trigger, 19)].The person who wrote these words lived in the 1800s, many years before archaeologists could accurately date materials from archaeological sites using scientific methods.Recently, I was asked if we could have “relative dates like on Twitter” for a project.With a great deal surprise (they knew what Twitter was??), I thought about it for a second and said, “Sure, why not” It’s just a machine—how difficult can it be? Here’s what I came up with to handle everything from seconds to years.It’s not really Output: Friday, September 18, 1981 :: about 26 years ago Monday, August 06, 2001 :: about 7 years ago Known Gotchas: Notice that I’m not accounting for leap years—every year is 365 instead of 366 every fourth year [year calculations are fun! Given a certain number of years, you’d eventually be a few days, then weeks, then months ahead.