University experts find the best way to make a date

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New techniques developed by Sheffield University experts are set to reveal the truth about time - dating historical artefects more accurately than ever before.

It means researchers will be able to precisely date everything from the recently discovered bones of Richard III to baby woolly mammoths found buried in the Siberian permafrost.

Research led by Professors Paul Blackwell and Caitlin Buck has resulted in a new internationally agreed radiocarbon dating method which will provide improved accuracy for archaeologists, environmental scientists and climate researchers.

It will mean that more precise date estimates can be obtained than previously possible and will reduce uncertainty about the timing of major events in the history and the development of humans, plants and animals and the environments in which they lived.

Apart from specific objects the method can also provide reliable time-scales for those seeking to understand ancient environments, including members of the International Panel on Climate Change.

Professor Buck said: “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 more than 30 other scientists who have shared data and ideas to make it all possible.”

The project has involved more than 10 years of research.