Radiocarbon dating

The radiocarbon method was developed by a team of scientists led by the late Professor Willard F.

Libby of the University of Chicago in immediate post-WW2 years.

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

Desmond Clark (1979) wrote that were it not for radiocarbon dating, "we would still be foundering in a sea of imprecisions sometime bred of inspired guesswork but more often of imaginative speculation" (Clark, 1979:7).

Writing of the European Upper Palaeolithic, Movius (1960) concluded that "time alone is the lens that can throw it into focus".

Radiocarbon dating works by comparing the three different isotopes of carbon.Dedicated at the University of Chicago on October 10, 2016.In 1946, Willard Libby proposed an innovative method for dating organic materials by measuring their content of carbon-14, a newly discovered radioactive isotope of carbon.For radiocarbon dating to be possible, the material must once have been part of a living organism.This means that things like stone, metal and pottery cannot usually be directly dated by this means unless there is some organic material embedded or left as a residue.As explained below, the radiocarbon date tells us when the organism was alive (not when the material was used).

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