Methods for dating artifacts

It is one of classical archaeology's great unsolved problems.This mock-up of an archaeological dig site gives an impression of what the important elements and basic tools are. This approach is light-years away from the traditional methods of archaeologists who spend their time carefully sifting through the dirt.Thus, 1587 is the post quem dating of Shakespeare's play Henry V.That means that the play was without fail written after (in Latin, post) 1587.It only sequences the age of things or determines if something is older or younger than other things.Some types of relative dating techniques include climate chronology, dendrochronology, ice core sampling, stratigraphy, and seriation.Even in this age of computers and x-rays, archaeologists still have to use basic methods like digging and measuring to insure that they collect the best information possible. So far the data base contains "8 billion polygons and 6 thousand color images, occupying 40 gigabytes." Solving the puzzle, says the team, "will take months, possibly years." You come across a buried staircase that leads down into the desert. But today a battery of new tools is helping to bring the past back to life.

Carved across marble slabs 45 feet high and 60 feet long, it is a map ancient Rome showing every street, building, room, and staircase.

Ice cores showed the age of a military plane buried in the artic as thousands of years old.

Similarly, dendrochronology measures the tree rings in trees and assumes they represent years.

Eighteen-hundred years ago it hung in the Roman census bureau, the most detailed map of the city ever produced. Today it languishes in the basement of a museum, smashed.

Now a team of American researchers have devised a novel way of pasting it together again — by scanning it into a computer.