Achaeological Science - Radiocarbon Dating D. Walter - May, 2008 Radiocarbon dating—also known as carbon-14 dating—is a technique used by archaeologists and historians to determine the age of organic material. It can theoretically be used to date anything that was alive any time during the last 60,000 years or so, including charcoal from ancient fires, wood used in construction or tools, cloth, bones, seeds, and leather. It cannot be applied to inorganic material such as stone tools or ceramic pottery.
Archaeologists have long used carbon-14 dating also known as radiocarbon dating to estimate the age of certain objects. Traditional radiocarbon dating is applied to organic remains between 500 and 50,000 years old and exploits the fact that trace amounts of radioactive carbon are found in the natural environment. Now, new applications for the technique are emerging in forensics, thanks to research funded by NIJ and other organizations.
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How Does Carbon Dating Work Carbon-14 is a weakly radioactive isotope of Carbon; also known as radiocarbon, it is an isotopic chronometer. C-14 dating is only applicable to organic and some inorganic materials not applicable to metals. Gas proportional counting, liquid scintillation counting and accelerator mass spectrometry are the three principal radiocarbon dating methods. What is Radiocarbon Dating? Radiocarbon dating is a method that provides objective age estimates for carbon-based materials that originated from living organisms.
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uses of carbon dating
Carbon-14, Radiometric Dating and Index Fossils Carbon dating is used to determine the age of biological artifacts up to 50,000 years old. This technique is widely used on recent artifacts, but educators and students alike should note that this technique will not work on older fossils like those of the dinosaurs alleged to be millions of years old. This technique is not restricted to bones; it can also be used on cloth, wood and plant fibers. Carbon-14 dating has been used successfully on the Dead Sea Scrolls, Minoan ruins and tombs of the pharaohs among other things.
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