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What makes radiocarbon dating work

The proportion of carbon 14 in the sample examined provides an indication of the time elapsed since death of the sample’s source.Radiocarbon dating results are reported in uncalibrated years BP (Before Present), where BP is defined as AD 1950.

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Other labs accept waterlogged wood while others prefer them dry at submission.Studying the material remains of past human life and activities may not seem important or exciting to the average Joe unlike the biological sciences.But archaeology’s aim to understand mankind is a noble endeavor that goes beyond uncovering buried treasures, gathering information, and dating events.Before deciding on using carbon dating as an analytical method, an archaeologist must first make sure that the results of radiocarbon dating after calibration can provide the needed answers to the archaeological questions asked.The implication of what is represented by the carbon 14 activity of a sample must be considered.Some samples, like wood, already ceased interacting with the biosphere and have an apparent age at death and linking them to the age of the deposits around the sample would not be wholly accurate.

There are also cases when the association between the sample and the deposit is not apparent or easily understood.

Contaminants must not be introduced to the samples during collection and storing.

Hydrocarbons, glue, biocides, polyethylene glycol, or polyvinylacetate must not come in contact with samples for radiocarbon dating.

History, anthropology, and archaeology are three distinct but closely related bodies of knowledge that tell man of his present by virtue of his past.

Historians can tell what cultures thrived in different regions and when they disintegrated.

Radiocarbon dating has been around for more than 50 years and has revolutionized archaeology.