C 14 radiocarbon dating
You probably have seen or read news stories about fascinating ancient artifacts.
At an archaeological dig, a piece of wooden tool is unearthed and the archaeologist finds it to be 5,000 years old.
What methods do they use and how do these methods work?
In this article, we will examine the methods by which scientists use radioactivity to determine the age of objects, most notably carbon-14 dating.
Today, the radiocarbon-14 dating method is used extensively in environmental sciences and in human sciences such as archaeology and anthropology.
Carbon-14 has a half-life of 5,730 ± 40 years—, half the amount of the radioisotope present at any given time will undergo spontaneous disintegration during the succeeding 5,730 years. It has proved to be a versatile technique of dating fossils and archaeological specimens from 500 to 50,000 years old.
Because carbon-14 decays at this constant rate, an estimate of the date at which an organism died can be made by measuring the amount of its residual radiocarbon. The method is widely used by Pleistocene geologists, anthropologists, archaeologists, and investigators in related fields.
date of organic material - but an approximate age, usually within a range of a few years either way.
The other method is “Relative Dating” which gives an order of events without giving an exact age (1): typically artefact typology or the study of the sequence of the evolution of fossils.
We hope it will be of occasional use to radiocarbon users and interested students alike.