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If a certain kind of pollen is found in an archaeological site, scientists can check when the plant that produced that pollen lived to determine the relative age of the site.
Absolute dating methods are carried out in a laboratory.
When the organism dies, the supply stops, and the carbon-14 contained in the organism begins to spontaneously decay into nitrogen-14.
The time it takes for one-half of the carbon-14 to decay (a period called a half-life) is 5,730 years.
Narrow rings grow in cold or dry years, and wide rings grow in warm or wet years.
The rings form a distinctive pattern, which is the same for all members in a given species and geographical area.
By measuring the amount of original and transformed atoms in an object, scientists can determine the age of that object.
In addition to the radiocarbon dating technique, scientists have developed other dating methods based on the transformation of one element into another.
Since certain species of animals existed on Earth at specific times in history, the fossils or remains of such animals embedded within those successive layers of rock also help scientists determine the age of the layers.
Similarly, pollen grains released by seed-bearing plants became fossilized in rock layers.
The older the pottery, the brighter the light that will be emitted.
Using thermoluminescence, pottery pieces as old as 100,000 years can be dated with precision. Known as dendrochronology (pronounced den-dro-crow-NOL-o-gee), tree-ring dating is based on the fact that trees produce one growth ring each year.