What connects Richard III and a woolly mammoth?

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  • Published: Dec 4, 2013
  • Author: Steve Down
  • Channels: MRI Spectroscopy / X-ray Spectrometry / Proteomics / UV/Vis Spectroscopy / Chemometrics & Informatics / Base Peak / Atomic / Raman / Infrared Spectroscopy / NMR Knowledge Base

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An updated radiocarbon calibration curve will allow researchers in different fields to determine more accurate dates for old objects, including excavated artefacts from archaeological sites, woolly mammoths, and the remains of Richard III that were discovered in Leicester, UK. The calibration is the culmination of five years work sponsored by the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) and more than ten years of research by researchers at Sheffield University and Queen’s University Belfast and it is discussed in Radiocarbon.

The team gathered 14C data from scientists around the world on tree rings, plant macrofossils, speleothems, corals and foraminifera and used a random walk model to generate the new calibration curves. The final results were agreed at the 21st International Radiocarbon Conference held July 2012 at UNESCO headquarters in Paris.

"We are proud to have developed such an important tool for archaeologists and environmental scientists, allowing them to more accurately date their findings and reduce uncertainty about the timings of major events. We’re also grateful to the more than 30 other scientists who have shared data and research ideas with us to make it all possible," commented Professor Caitlin Buck from the University of Sheffield.

Image: courtesy University of Leicester

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