Approaching archaeological techniques and artifacts from an interpretive viewpoint, the series looks in detail at specific classes of artifacts that have contributed most to our knowledge of the past, and at particular investigative techniques that are now being used to refine this knowledge and thereby to question previous assumptions.In Radiocarbon Dating, Sheridan Bowman provides a much-needed introduction to the complex field of carbon dating.
Fluoride (or fluorine) dating is a relative dating method that can be used to date archaeological bone.
When exposed to water that contains fluoride, a fluoride ion (F-) can replace a hydroxyl ion (OH-) in the bone mineral.
The resulting fluor-apatite is more stable than the original form, thus the fluoride content of a bone will increase over time if it is exposed to a solution containing fluoride ions.
Carbon-14 is radioactive with a half-life of about 5700 years, but as C-14 atoms decay, new ones are created.
The amount of C-14 in the atmosphere settles into an equilibrium where creation of new atoms is equal to the decay of old atoms.