Seminário da Pós-Graduação FAMB: “Physics: A Useful Tool in Archaeology”

  • 16:30 - 17:30
  • Sala 11 do Bloco Didático das Exatas - B4


Título: “Physics: A Useful Tool in Archaeology”

Palestrante: Profª Anne R. Skinner – Professora Emérita do Depto. de Química do Williams College, MA, USA

Dia: 18 de abril de 2018, 4a. feira

Horário: 16h30, sala 11 do Bloco Didático das Exatas - B4 


Interdisciplinary approaches are being emphasized in current scientific research.  Archaeology is one field that has benefited greatly by the introduction of scientific methods.  In order to maximize the utility of such cooperation, one should also ensure that physicists are familiar with the needs of archaeologists, so that they can improve results.  This presentation will cover primarily methods of dating, as this is often the most important information about a site, but also some other ways in which a knowledge of physics is useful.

Most of the significant methods of dating require some knowledge of physics.  Radioactivity, both natural and induced, contributes not just to the well-known radiocarbon method, but to virtually every other important method.  Therefore, understanding the physical basis of nuclear change improves the understanding of the promise and limits of such techniques as cosmogenic dating and trapped charge dating.

Other skills that physicists can bring to this field include understanding of statistics (again something that is easily misused) and of multivariable complexity, such as is introduced when considering the present and past environment of an archaeological site.

Archaeology, the study of material evidence of human behavior, and paleoanthropology, the study of the tempo and mode of human evolution, are interesting subjects.  In the past, however, ignorance of science has often mischaracterized results (‘Piltdown Man’ is an example).  Perhaps this presentation will provide a stimulus for more physicists to explore these fields.


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