A three-year study of hundreds of artifacts looks set to settle several long-standing debates about Egypt's ancient dynasties.
The study, which appears in the June 18 issue of Science, is the first to use high-precision measurements of radioactive carbon isotopes to produce a detailed timeline for the reigns of Egyptian pharaohs from about 2650 BC to 1100 BC.
"It is a very, very important finding," says Hendrik Bruins, an archaeologist and geoscientist at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, Israel, who was not associated with the work. "For the first time, radiocarbon dating more or less corroborates the essence of the Egyptian historical chronology."
Led by Christopher Bronk Ramsey, a physicist and mathematician at the University of Oxford, UK, the researchers use the well-established technique of measuring the amount of radioactive carbon-14 in ancient artifacts. Plants absorb carbon-14 as they grow, and the radioisotope decays naturally over time after they die. Measuring carbon-14 levels in artifacts made of organic material allows archaeologists to determine their age.
Saturday, June 19, 2010
More re radiocarbon dating of Egyptian material
Scientific American (Richard Lovett)