P.), when placed after a number (as in 2500 BP), means "years Before the Present." Archaeologists and geologists generally use this abbreviation to refer to dates that were obtained through the radiocarbon dating technology.While BP is also used generally as an imprecise estimate of an age of an object or event, the use of it in science was made necessary by the quirks of the radiocarbon methodology.
Most importantly, researchers discovered that radiocarbon dates are affected by the amount of carbon in the atmosphere, which has fluctuated greatly in the past for both natural and human-caused reasons (such as the invention of iron smelting, the Industrial Revolution, and the invention of the combustion engine).
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That methodology has been refined and improved several times over the last few years.
BP was first established as a way to clarify the relationship between calendar years and radiocarbon dates.