Notes about Discussing Time

Radiocarbon Testing for Dates

Radiocarbon dating cannot date how old a stone is. In other words, the test cannot tell us the age of the stones used to build the pyramids in Egypt. To figure out when the pyramids were built, scientists test carbon that people left behind at the time they built the structures. For example, scientists can test the carbon from kitchen fires, human and animal remains, or other organic substances.

The purity of the specimens being tested is often difficult to determine. The person doing the testing cannot always tell if the specimens were left behind when the site was first built. If a tomb was robbed or uncovered by grave-diggers between the time it was built and the time it was tested, organic material left by the robbers might foul the data. If you visit Stonehenge today and you leave behind the remnants of the cheese and tomato sandwich you were eating while you were visiting, then scientists 5000 years from now might date Stonehenge by the date of the tomato is your sandwich.

The point is, most data, even when obtained through carbon testing, is approximate.

Now, let’s get this show on the road. The Knowledge of the Ancient World