Why mortar dating? The project the Åland Churches was initiated with the aim to finally reach a reliable chronology for a group of stone churches upon which there had been deep disagreement. Since there are no contemporary sources to shed light on the matter, and since coins and artefacts cannot date buildings, there was an obvious need for objective scientific methods on a larger scale. The method of dendrochronology was widely applied on wooden structures in the churches in Even if dendrochronology could not date the first building stages of the churches, due to repairs and fires, this method was very important in providing firm dates for secondary structures, and for comparative research.
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When news is announced on the discovery of an archaeological find, we often hear about how the age of the sample was determined using radiocarbon dating, otherwise simply known as carbon dating. Deemed the gold standard of archaeology, the method was developed in the late s and is based on the idea that radiocarbon carbon 14 is being constantly created in the atmosphere by cosmic rays which then combine with atmospheric oxygen to form CO2, which is then incorporated into plants during photosynthesis. When the plant or animal that consumed the foliage dies, it stops exchanging carbon with the environment and from there on in it is simply a case of measuring how much carbon 14 has been emitted, giving its age. But new research conducted by Cornell University could be about to throw the field of archaeology on its head with the claim that there could be a number of inaccuracies in commonly accepted carbon dating standards. If this is true, then many of our established historical timelines are thrown into question, potentially needing a re-write of the history books.
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