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.
Archaeologists are interested in the absolute age that a specific event took place, thus the dating method should be as accurate and precise as possible.
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.
A radiocarbon date would then be an average of the range of ages of the different pieces of wood charcoal.
Likewise, standing dead trees that may be over 1,000 years old have been documented in the American Southwest and northern Mexico.
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.A review is given of the science-based techniques that have been used to establish archaeological chronologies from the million-year range down to the historical period.The best samples for the construction of calibration curves are tree rings where individual annual rings and annually laminated sediments are dated by AMS.Ocean corals and speleothems (cave deposits such as stalactites) dated by another radiometric method—Uranium-Thorium dating—have also helped to extend the calibration curve beyond the age of the most ancient tree-ring chronologies.The review you are about to read comes to you courtesy of H-Net -- its reviewers, review editors, and publishing staff.