Archeological dating

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Wickliffe Mounds State Historic Site is an Interpretive Center on the Great River Road National Scenic Byway and is part of the Kentucky Great River Road, where you'll find exciting events and happenings in the four KY counties bordering the Mississippi River.

Open to the public since 1932, the museum exhibits excavated features with displays of Mississippian pottery, stone tools, artifacts and artwork showcasing their way of life and the archaeological history of Native American tribes in Kentucky.

Visitors have a spectacular view of the bluff area on top of the Ceremonial Mound, the largest mound on the site.

Special exhibits, hands-on displays, events, demonstrations and educational programs occur at various times throughout the year.

For example, one fun popular summer event is an archaeology day camp for kids.

Carbon dating is used to work out the age of organic material — in effect, any living thing.

As a rule, carbon dates are younger than calendar dates: a bone carbon-dated to 10,000 years is around 11,000 years old, and 20,000 carbon years roughly equates to 24,000 calendar years.

The problem, says Bronk Ramsey, is that tree rings provide a direct record that only goes as far back as about 14,000 years.

Various geologic, atmospheric and solar processes can influence atmospheric carbon-14 levels.

Since the 1960s, scientists have started accounting for the variations by calibrating the clock against the known ages of tree rings.

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