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"This technique stands to revolutionize radiocarbon dating," said Marvin Rowe, Ph. "It expands the possibility for analyzing extensive museum collections that have previously been off limits because of their rarity or intrinsic value and the destructive nature of the current method of radiocarbon dating.

In theory, it could even be used to date the Shroud of Turin." Rowe explained that the new method is a form of radiocarbon dating, the archaeologist's standard tool to estimate the age of an object by measuring its content of naturally-occurring radioactive carbon.

The scenario imagined is that of the bowl being passed to the diners, who, unaware of the prank, would happily take it in their hands for a sip.

They would recognize the minute statue of Tantalus, a Greek mythological figure eternally condemned to stand in a lake full of fruit, but without being able to satisfy his thirst or hunger.

Then they treat the sample with a strong acid and a strong base and finally burn the sample in a small glass chamber to produce carbon dioxide gas to analyze its C-14 content.

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The figurine is small enough to fit into the chamber used for analysis.

The function of the Tantalus bowl, which soaks whoever drinks from it in wine, was only fully realized after it was studied by an archaeologist from the British Museum.

The bowl was uncovered in Vinkovci, eastern Croatia, in March 2012, and is believed to date back to the 4th century AD.

In the new method, scientists place an entire artifact in a special chamber with a plasma, an electrically charged gas similar to gases used in big-screen plasma television displays.

The gas slowly and gently oxidizes the surface of the object to produce carbon dioxide for C-14 analysis without damaging the surface, he said.


  1. Artifact dates range from several hundred years ago to. The concept of using radiocarbon dating to determine the age of carbon-containing.

  2. DATING GUIDE TO HISTORIC ARTIFACTS Trina C. Maples This general dating guide is oriented toward historic materials found in the Ohio Valley region.

  3. Dating refers to the archaeological tool to date artefacts and sites, and to properly construct methods can be classified into two basic categories

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