Recently, researchers at Oxford University discovered that tree rings could be the key to accurately dating various events and artifacts. The hypothesis was based on the fact that the sun experienced intense solar storms in the past, most notably in 775 AD and 994 AD. These solar storms released high-energy radiation into the earth’s atmosphere that caused the trees to experience a spike in carbon-14, a radioactive isotope. Scientists would be able to see signs of these spikes both in the wood used to construct various ancient buildings and in any plant tissue that was living at the time.
With the current use of carbon dating technology, archaeologists and scientists have only been able to estimate an artifact’s or event’s date within around 50-100 years, if not more. By relying instead on the radioactive spikes in plant materials, scientists can get a more accurate idea of an artifact’s age even if it is several thousand years old. Still, recognizing that tree-ring data only comes in 10-year blocks, the Oxford researchers proposed a new science, astrochronology, that would gather solar storm data by reexamining already collected tree-ring data.