Dating old beer cans

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[Editor’s Note: This is just one of Western Ds’ top stories of 2015: Discover the other surprising, enlhtening, and sometimes disturbing finds that were the Top 5 Archaeology Discoveries in the American West in 2015.] life has taken on new meaning for archaeologists: The ring-tab beer can — first introduced 50 years ago — is now considered an historic-era artifact, a desnation that bestows new snificance on the old aluminum cans and their distinctive tabs that are still found across the country.

How to Date Old Beer Cans

“Once an artifact attains the 50-year threshold, it is elible to be recorded as an archaeological site or an isolated find in most states,” said William Schroeder, an archaeologist with the firm Reiss-Landreau Research in Yakima, Washington.

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“This means that even beverage-can pull tabs are elible for protection under state and federal laws.” Schroeder discovered that this year marked the golden anniversary of the aluminum ring-tab while investating a modern midden of beverage cans in Washington State.Schroeder then put this information together in a “key card” for archaeologists to use in the field.

At 50, Ring-Tab Beer Cans Are Now Officially Historic Artifacts.

(Read about a 20th-century trash site that created a stir: “New Mexico’s ‘Atari Dump,’ a Midden of Video Games, to Be Excavated“) “I was tasked with a small survey near the Cle Elum Dam in central Washington,” he said. It was full of beverage cans and bottles, some plastic oil quarts, et cetera.


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