Recent radiocarbon dating

Radiocarbon dating is the most common technique used in ascertaining the age of archaeological and paleontological sites during the last 45,000 years.Developed by a chemist born in Colorado, there are now commercial and academic laboratories across the globe that conduct radiocarbon dating.

Historians can tell what cultures thrived in different regions and when they disintegrated.

Anthropologists can describe a people’s physical character, culture, and environmental and social relations.

The isotope, Carbon-14, abbreviated as C in a sample.

The first radiocarbon studies conducted by Libby focused on a variety of organic materials whose age was known or suggested through previous research.

The first dated materials included wood from Egyptian tombs, linen wrapping from one of the Dead Sea Scrolls, and heartwood from a California sequoia.

Radiocarbon dating is useful for dating organic materials as old as 45,000 to 50,000 years, after which little C atoms in a sample decay.With this technique, a sample’s C atoms are directly counted, meaning that samples can be much smaller.Recent developments in instrumentation have enabled radiocarbon dating to be conducted at archaeological sites rather than in a dedicated laboratory.Dating charcoal that originated from such dead wood would result in a date that could be centuries older than the actual burning of the wood in a hearth.Dating seeds and annual plants using AMS dating is a common method of avoiding the problems in dating wood charcoal.“Radiocarbon Dating: An Introduction,” Beta Analytic, n.d.

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