What can radiocarbon dating be used for
Renfrew (1973) called it 'the radiocarbon revolution' in describing its impact upon the human sciences.Oakley (1979) suggested its development meant an almost complete re-writing of the evolution and cultural emergence of the human species.The man's body was recovered and pieces of tissue were studied for their C content by accelerator mass spectroscopy.The best estimate from this dating technique says the man lived between 33 BC. From the ratio, the time since the formation of the rock can be calculated.Carbon-14 cannot be used to date biological artifacts of organisms that did not get their carbon dioxide from the air.This rules out carbon dating for most aquatic organisms, because they often obtain at least some of their carbon from dissolved carbonate rock.
This technique is widely used on recent artifacts, but educators and students alike should note that this technique will not work on older fossils (like those of the dinosaurs alleged to be millions of years old).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".Nyerup's words illustrate poignantly the critical power and importance of dating; to order time.
Radiocarbon dating has been one of the most significant discoveries in 20th century science.The boat of a pharaoh was discovered in a sealed crypt and reassembled in a museum near the pyramids (see Fig. The age of our galaxy and earth also can be estimated using radioactive dating.