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Radiocarbon dating

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When were they built? Dates for key archaeological events at five Neolithic long barrows

Left The new dating for the main events represented in the archaeological sequence at each of five long barrows in Southern Britain. A total of 169 radiocarbon dates were combined with stratigraphic evidence from each site and subjected to computer-aided Bayesian statistical analysis. The result was a series of much tighter dates, with a notable concentration of activity in a relatively brief period from 3750-3625 cal BC.

terms of two standard deviations. Thus, a radiocarbon date might be given as 3780-3380 cal BC (95% probability). This means that there is a 95% probability that the date lies within this 400 year period! The uncertainty is due principally to counting errors and variations in the radiocarbon calibration curve. The result is 'fuzzy prehistory': vague dateranges leading to perceptions of prehistory in terms of the longue durée rather than a sequence of discrete events.

The third radiocarbon revolution Now a third radiocarbon revolution has begun. Long-held views on the chronology of England's prehistoric monuments are being overturned by a ground-breaking new dating programme. As Alex Bayliss, head of English Heritage's Scientific Dating Team, explained: 'Prehistorians till now have

Left The five long barrows selected for the first phase of the new radiocarbon dating programme for British prehistory.

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