What is the Turin Shroud? When were the Pyramids built? Where are the branches on the human family tree? Why did the dinosaurs die out? How did the Earth take shape? With questions like these, says Chris Turney, time is of the essence. And understanding how we pinpoint the past, he cautions, is crucial to putting the present in perspective and planning for the future. In ten chapters, each focussing on a well-known dating controversy (from the existence of King Arthur to the last Ice Age), Turney reveals the leg-work behind the headlines. Drawing on years of professional experience, most recently with the celebrated 'Hobbit' fossil of Indonesia, Turney explains how written records, carbon, pollen, tree rings, constellations, and DNA sequencing can help archaeologists, paleontologists and geologists to 'tell the time'. We ignore or misunderstand these techniques and their results at our peril, he concludes.