Brief history carbon dating links to dating
The explanation was that the physicists had assumed that the amount of C-14 in the atmosphere had been constant, when in fact it had varied over time.The solution came using dendrochronology (tree ring dating).When this method was first developed, a fairly large amount of carbon was necessary for dating but use of the AMS (accelerator mass spectrometer) today necessitates only a few milligrams for analysis. Prior to the development of radiocarbon dating, it was difficult to tell when an archaeological artifact came from.C is created in the atmosphere by cosmic radiation and is taken up by plants and animals as long as they live.Upon death, the isotope begins to decay and after 5730±40 years half of it is gone.
Fortunately, Willard Libby, a scientist who would later win the 1960 Nobel Prize in Chemistry, developed the process known as radiocarbon dating in the late 1940s. In a nutshell, it works like this: After an organism dies, it stops absorbing carbon-14, so the radioactive isotope starts to decay and is not replenished.And lastly, the ratio of C-14 to C-12 in the atmosphere (and hence the ratio in organic remains) has fluctuated to a certain extent over the millennia, something that can lead to misleading discrepancies that need to be corrected for.Despite these limitations, radiocarbon dating will often get you a decent ballpark figure.The data can be a little off particularly in younger artifacts, and anything older than about 50,000 years is pretty much too old to be tested because at that point the majority of the C-14 has decayed to practically undetectable levels.There's also still usually a wide window of time that an object can fall into.
Before this, it was anyone's guess how different digs' timelines compared to one another over great distances.