Carbon dating and reliability
This magnificent technology is the most important innovation in archaeological history.Archaeologists have the most accurate readings they are likely to ever receive!Though it is not without its flaws, including several not mentioned here, it is truly an incredible creation that will be used for many years to come.
If an archaeologist wanted to date a dead tree to see when humans used it to build tools, their readings would be significantly thrown off.
This is because radiocarbon dating gives the date when the tree ceased its intake of Carbon-14—not when it was being used for weapons and other instruments!
The isotope decreased by a small fraction due to the combustion of fossil fuels, among other factors.
However, the quantity of Carbon-14 was nearly doubled in the ’50s and ’60s because of the atomic bomb testings in those decades.
And that's what the American physical chemist Willard Libby won the Nobel Prize for when he discovered radiocarbon dating in the late 1940s.
It's based on the very simple principle that radioactive isotopes decay at a steady, predictable rate.
Radiocarbon dating uses the naturally occurring isotope Carbon-14 to approximate the age of organic materials. Often, archaeologists use graves and plant remains to date sites.
Since its conception by Willard Libby in 1949, it has been invaluable to the discipline.
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