Flashcards in Investigating the Ancient Past Deck (9)
What do cryptographers do?
Study, create and decipher codes and writing systems.
What do scientific experts do?
Use the sciences (especially chemistry and biology) and scientific methods (e.g. DNA analysis) to provide evidence about such things as artefacts or human remains and check their authenticity.
What do linguists do?
Study the nature and structure of language, how it has changed over time and the language styles used in certain types of documents and in particular time periods.
What do palaeontologists do?
Investigate plant and animal fossils to study the biology of past life forms to work out such things as how the Earth has evolved over time and the nature of plants and animals that have become extinct in the process.
What is experimental archaeology?
The attempt to test a hypothesis about the process by which something was created in the past, e.g. by testing building techniques to discover how people built something.
What is dendrochronology and what is it used to do?
Dendrochronology, or tree-ring dating, is based on the fact that the timbers of a tree develop a new ring of growth each year. Rings are usually narrower when the weather has been poor and wider when it has been good. Tree rings and their widths form a pattern that is repeated on different trees of the same species. By comparing the pattern of rings found on an undated piece of timber with a pattern that has already been matched and dated, scientists can work out the age of a particular piece of timber in a specific region.
It is used to tell the age of wood Estimate the period when a particular object (e.g. boat, fence, staircase) or building was constructed. Experts just need a good cross-section of timber from the item they are studying.
What is radiocarbon dating and what is it used to do?
Radiocarbon dating (also called carbon dating) relies on the fact that all living things absorb carbon. One type is the radioactive carbon-14. After an organism has died and no longer absorbs carbon from the atmosphere, carbon-14 gives out radiation and gradually changes to nitrogen-14. The amount of carbon-14 left can be used like a clock to measure long periods of time.
It is used to work out the age of materials such as wood, bone, charcoal, leather, hair or a fossil.
What is thermoluminescence dating and what is it used to do?
Thermoluminescence dating (TL dating) involves scientists heating objects to very high temperatures and then measuring the light energy the objects give off. The greater the amount of light given off, the older the object is.
It is used to date stone and clay objects (e.g. pottery) that people have heated or fired.