This figure is directly based on the proportion of radiocarbon found in the sample. It is calculated on the assumption that the atmospheric radiocarbon concentration has always been the same as it was in and that the half-life of radiocarbon is years. To give an example if a sample is found to have a radiocarbon concentration exactly half of that for material which was modern in the radiocarbon measurement would be reported as BP. In order to see what a radiocarbon determination means in terms of a true age we need to know how the atmospheric concentration has changed with time. Many types of tree reliably lay down one tree ring every year.
Radiocarbon dating also referred to as carbon dating or carbon dating is a method for determining the age of an object containing organic material by using the properties of radiocarbon , a radioactive isotope of carbon. The method was developed in the late s at the University of Chicago by Willard Libby , who received the Nobel Prize in Chemistry for his work in It is based on the fact that radiocarbon 14 C is constantly being created in the atmosphere by the interaction of cosmic rays with atmospheric nitrogen. The resulting 14 C combines with atmospheric oxygen to form radioactive carbon dioxide , which is incorporated into plants by photosynthesis ; animals then acquire 14 C by eating the plants.
How archaeologists determine the date of ancient sites and artifacts
Radiocarbon dating is one of the best known archaeological dating techniques available to scientists, and the many people in the general public have at least heard of it. But there are many misconceptions about how radiocarbon works and how reliable a technique it is. Radiocarbon dating was invented in the s by the American chemist Willard F.
It is an essential technology that is heavily involved in archaeology and should be explored in greater depth. Radiocarbon dating uses the naturally occurring isotope Carbon to approximate the age of organic materials. Often, archaeologists use graves and plant remains to date sites. Since its conception by Willard Libby in , it has been invaluable to the discipline. In fact, many important archaeological artifacts have been dated using this method including some of the Dead Sea Scrolls and the Shroud of Turin.