Scientists at the New Mexico Office of Archaeological Studies use a Low Energy Plasma Radiocarbon Sampling device on a sample of gelatin at its lab near Santa Fe.The machine is used to date artifacts by doing minimal damage to the sample. — The contraption he built looks a little like something you might see from “The Nutty Professor.”But Marvin Rowe is no nut.Lifting the barriers Professor Steve Taylor, from the University’s Department of Electrical Engineering and Electronics who is leading the project, said: “It will be a challenge to develop a portable instrument to achieve the required performance, but thanks to this funding we are in a strong position to make a real attempt.” Frank Hargrave, Director of Norton Priory said: “The potential of this new technique is incalculable.Archaeologists will, for the first time, be able to make decisions onsite and within days of sampling.This is one of the very, very few sites in Mora County that have been excavated,” she said of the site reported by the state Department of Transportation.A buffalo tooth rests in a tube of the Low Energy Plasma Radiocarbon Sampling machine located in the New Mexico Office of Archaeological Studies lab.So far the technique has been has been used to analyse both medieval and post medieval bone samples provided by Norton Priory Museum & Gardens, the most excavated monastic site in Europe.
How do scientists know how old an object or human remains are?
Mass spectometer The new technology uses a quadrupole mass spectrometer (QMS) which will reduce the time it takes to obtain data for a bone sample to just two days.
Significantly the technology can also be utilised onsite, and this is the first time this has been attempted.
The researchers claim that their idea could have other applications, including biomedical procedures, environmental monitoring, fundamental physics and explosives detection.
Carbon dating is an essential tool of modern archaeology because it allows the age of a biological sample to be determined from the radioactivity of its carbon compounds.