Can carbon dating work on stone
Rachel Wood does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organisation that would benefit from this article, and has disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond their academic appointment.
Radiocarbon dating has transformed our understanding of the past 50,000 years.
Luckily, we can measure these fluctuations in samples that are dated by other methods.
Tree rings can be counted and their radiocarbon content measured.
This is particularly important for very old samples.
From these records a “calibration curve” can be built (see figure 2, below).
A huge amount of work is currently underway to extend and improve the calibration curve.
Moving away from techniques, the most exciting thing about radiocarbon is what it reveals about our past and the world we live in.
Radiocarbon dating was the first method that allowed archaeologists to place what they found in chronological order without the need for written records or coins.
If 1% of the carbon in a 50,000 year old sample is from a modern contaminant, the sample will be dated to around 40,000 years.