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Weizmann Institute and Max Planck Society establish a joint center for archaeology and anthropology
Date:1/11/2012

arly modern human populations in the Levantine region, at the crossroads between Africa and Eurasia. The study of fossil remains of these two populations has been traditionally based on the shapes of bones and teeth, examined more recently with the help of 3D computer reconstructions. Scientists in this track will make use of high-resolution computer tomography both at the Max Planck Institute in Leipzig and at the Weizmann Institute, a technology that makes it possible to perform such reconstructions down to the level of micron-sized details. The scientists will examine the relationship between structure and function in bones and teeth, which is essential for understanding evolutionary changes. Since this relationship is difficult to establish using fossils alone, the focus of the studies in the new Center will be on modern bones and teeth.

Particle Accelerator for the Study of the Past

The new AMS equipment is expected to have a major impact on archaeology research both locally and internationally, as the only machine of its kind in the entire Middle East. Designed especially for conducting mainly archaeological research, it will be installed at the Weizmann Institute in a designated laboratory in the Physics Faculty, in the end of 2012. Archaeological dating used to rely on counters tracking the decay of the radioactive carbon isotope called C-14, a time-consuming process that requires large quantities of material. In contrast, AMS performs direct measurements of C-14, by accelerating the carbon atoms to a high speed and separating out the C-14 even when it is present at the minute concentrations of one in a quadrillion (1 followed by 15 zeroes) carbon atoms. This approach makes it possible to perform the dating very fast and on minute quantities of material, such as a single lentil, a grain of wheat or a small trace of collagen in bones an essential feature, since over thousands of years, organic matter on which radiocarbon dating is b
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Contact: Yivsam Azgad
news@weizmann.ac.il
972-893-43856
Weizmann Institute of Science
Source:Eurekalert

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