When is carbon dating used


13-Jun-2017 08:23

View the full list Radiocarbon dating has transformed our understanding of the past 50,000 years.

Professor Willard Libby produced the first radiocarbon dates in 1949 and was later awarded the Nobel Prize for his efforts.

A huge amount of work is currently underway to extend and improve the calibration curve.

In 2008 we could only calibrate radiocarbon dates until 26,000 years.

Radio carbon dating determines the age of ancient objects by means of measuring the amount of carbon-14 there is left in an object.

A man called Willard F Libby pioneered it at the University of Chicago in the 50's. This is now the most widely used method of age estimation in the field of archaeology.

Later called Ötzi the Iceman, small samples from his body were carbon dated by scientists.

From these records a “calibration curve” can be built (see figure 2, below).

Once an organism dies, it stops taking in carbon-14.



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