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Science and archaeology can unravel the past

By Kelly Foss

Have you ever wondered how archaeologists piece together the puzzles of the past? Uncovering artifacts during an archaelogical excavation is just the beginning of the story.

Dr. Elisabetta Boaretto works in the field of archaeological science as the director of the Radiocarbon Dating and Cosmogenic Isotopes Lab at the Weizmann Institute of Science (Israel). She will give a public talk on Monday, Feb. 6, describing how scientists and archaeologists can work together to gain a better understanding of ancient materials and the people who used them.

Dr. Boaretto has pioneered an integrative approach to radiocarbon dating in archaeology. Her work has been featured on the NOVA PBS television documentary The Bible's Buried Secrets and on the BBC. Distinguished among her scientific peers, she has received the 2011 IBA-Europhysics prize for Applied Nuclear Science and Nuclear Methods, and the Italian National Decoration Onorificenza della Stella Della Solidarieta, which is the equivalent of receiving the Order of Canada.

Her projects involve extensive fieldwork to collect the best possible samples for radiocarbon dating based on their archaeological contexts. She has developed novel pre-screening techniques that can be used in the field during archaeological excavations, and has introduced methods to increase the precision and accuracy of radiocarbon dates to provide a deeper understanding of the archaeology that is related to the context in which the material was found. Her methods are now used in conjunction with archaeological excavations throughout the world.

Her talk is intended for a general audience and is titled It's All In The Timing: Understanding the Past Through Radiocarbon and Archaeology. It will take place Monday, Feb. 6, at 7 p.m. in the Bruneau Centre for Research and Innovation, IIC-2001.

This event is sponsored by the Faculties of Science and Arts, and by the Departments of Physics and Physical Oceanography, Chemistry, Earth Science, Archaeology, History and Religious Studies.

She will also give another talk, which will be jointly part of the Archaeology at MUN series and the Physics and Physical Oceanography Seminar Series, on Tuesday, Feb. 7, at 3:30 p.m., in IIC-2001.

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