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Conventional carbon dating estimates the age of an artifact based on its content of carbon-14 (C-14), a naturally occurring, radioactive form of carbon.
Comparing the C-14 levels in the object to levels of C-14 expected in the atmosphere for a particular historic period allows scientists to estimate the age of an artifact.
In conventional dating methods, scientists remove a small sample from an object, such as a cloth or bone fragment.
Although it sometimes requires taking minute samples of an object, even that damage may be unacceptable for some artifacts.
The new method does not involve removing a sample of the object.
Funding for this project is provided by the National Science Foundation, the National Center for Preservation Technology and Training, and Texas A&M University.
One popular theory about the Paleolithic cave paintings proposes that sites were chosen based on the acoustics in the caves.