Radiocarbon dating wikipedia
You probably have seen or read news stories about fascinating ancient artifacts.
How do scientists know how old an object or human remains are?
What methods do they use and how do these methods work?
At an archaeological dig, a piece of wooden tool is unearthed and the archaeologist finds it to be 5,000 years old.
A child mummy is found high in the Andes and the archaeologist says the child lived more than 2,000 years ago.
To correct for this, scientists have compared radiocarbon dates from objects who's age is known by other means, such as artifacts from Egyptian tombs, and growth rings from ancient trees.
In this way, calibration tables have been developed that eliminate the discrepancy.
And no C-14, it is not, in itself, harmful to us as the concentration is very low.
Radiocarbon dating is therefore limited to objects that are younger than 50,000 to 60,000 years or so.
(Since humans have only existed in the Americas for approximately 12,000 years, this is not a serious limitation to southwest archaeology.) Radiocarbon dating is also susceptible to contamination.
Despite its usefulness, radiocarbon dating has a number of limitations.
First, the older the object, the less carbon-14 there is to measure.
It is used in dating things such as bone, cloth, wood and plant fibers that were created in the relatively recent past by human activities.