Archaeological carbon dating
In nature, carbon exists as two stable, nonradioactive isotopes: At the beginning of the process, it is important to remember that only certain materials can be tested using carbon dating, i.Stratigraphic dating remains very reliable when it comes to dating objects or events in undisturbed stratigraphic levels.Top of page You read statements in books that such and such a society or archeological site is 20,000 years old.
However, the rates of movement of carbon throughout the cycle were not then known.
Known as radiocarbon dating, this method provides objective age estimates for carbon-based objects that originated from living organisms.
The “radiocarbon revolution” made possible by Libby’s discovery greatly benefitted the fields of archaeology and geology by allowing practitioners to develop more precise historical chronologies across geography and cultures.
Theoretically, if one could detect the amount of carbon-14 in an object, one could establish that object’s age using the half-life, or rate of decay, of the isotope.
In 1946, Libby proposed this groundbreaking idea in the journal Physical Review.When a living thing dies, it stops interacting with the biosphere, and the carbon 14 in it remains unaffected by the biosphere but will naturally undergo decay.