Dating gold artifacts

12-Aug-2018 19:22

Although the artifacts were originally collected and analyzed in the 1960s, Standish's study is the first to conduct sensitive isotope analyses on the artifacts.Lead isotopes are produced by the radioactive decay of the uranium that is found mixed in with the gold in the artifacts.

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The findings were described in April in the journal Proceedings of the Prehistoric Society.Over time, a uranium atom will break down into a lead atom, and scientists can measure the relative amounts of uranium and lead in a sample to figure out how much time has elapsed.When Standish began his research, he thought he would find about the same number of lead isotopes in the Mourne Mountains in northwestern Ireland and the gold relics found in Ireland, he said.But now, extremely sensitive chemical analyses have revealed that the gold had been extracted from an area farther away, across the Irish Sea, in what's now southwestern Britain.