University of Arizona researchers discover a new tool to unlock secrets of the past

UA researchers unlock secrets of the past

TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - Researchers from the University of Arizona said they have discovered a new way to unlock secrets of the past.

“The chronology is kind of a skeleton that underpins the whole story,” said Dr. Charlotte Pearson, University of Arizona assistant professor of dendrochronology, anthropology, and geosciences, and a member of the IntCal Working Group.

Pearson is one of many researchers working to tell stories of the past a little bit better.

“The better and more accurate that chronology is, the way you date things, then the more we can say and the more we know about the past,” Pearson said.

Pearson, and the international team of researchers, are recalculating and adjusting the international radiocarbon calibration curves, which are tools used to more accurately date all kinds of artifacts from the oldest human bones to historic climate patterns.

“It is lovely to be a part of a group of people that are trying to provide something for the greater good to help drive science forward,” Pearson said.

University of Arizona Geosciences Professor Tim Jull said the more precise information released this week, is about 40 years worth of work.

“Simple calculation is relatively close, but it is not accurate. So, over time, people have developed more and more precise calibration curves,” Jull said. “So anything that we can date that contains carbon within the last 50,000 years, technically we can determine the age.”

The scientists said archaeologists can now use these new and improved tools to more accurately date ancient monuments while geoscientists can use the information to determine what the climate was like in the past. They said these tools will even help tell the history of the sun.

“It is very exciting because now this record extends further back in time than it ever did before,” Pearson said.

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