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Generally speaking, the more complex a poem or piece of pottery is, the more advanced it is and the later it falls in the chronology.
When it comes to determining the age of stuff scientists dig out of the ground, whether fossil or artifact, “there are good dates and bad dates and ugly dates,” says paleoanthropologist John Shea of Stony Brook University.
This family of dating methods, some more than a century old, takes advantage of the environment’s natural radioactivity.
Certain unstable isotopes of trace radioactive elements in both organic and inorganic materials decay into stable isotopes. By measuring the proportion of different isotopes present, researchers can figure out how old the material is.
Here are some of the most common radiometric methods: Radiocarbon dating: Sometimes called carbon-14 dating, this method works on organic material.
Both plants and animals exchange carbon with their environment until they die.
Afterward, the amount of the radioactive isotope carbon-14 in their remains decreases.