With radiocarbon dating
Upon reaching the earth’s surface, a small percentage of carbon-14 containing carbon dioxide is taken up by plants and then incorporation into plant biomolecules via photosynthesis.It becomes incorporated into the biomolecules of heterotrophic organisms (animals) via the food chain.Thus a great deal of care is taken in securing and processing samples and multiple samples are often required if we want to be confident about assigning a date to a site, feature, or artifact (read more about the radiocarbon dating technique at: In last Tuesday’s lecture, radiocarbon dating was covered briefly.Regardless of the particular 14C technique used, the value of this tool for archaeology has clearly been appreciated.Desmond Clark (1979:7) observed that without radiocarbon dating "we would still be foundering in a sea of imprecisions sometime bred of inspired guesswork but more often of imaginative speculation." And as Colin Renfrew (1973) aptly noted over 30 years ago, the "Radiocarbon Revolution" transformed how archaeologists could interpret the past and track cultural changes through a period in human history where we see among other things the massive migration of peoples settling virtually every major region of the world, the transition from hunting and gathering to more intensive forms of food production, and the rise of city-states.Please discuss your proposal with the appropriate ANSTO Contact Scientist before submitting your proposal as they will assist you in making the correct capability selection.Capability selections Selecting the right capability depends on your sample type, or the form in which you wish to send the sample.
Newly formed carbon-14 atoms oxidize to carbon dioxide and become thoroughly mixed with the other atmospheric gases, through atmospheric dynamics.
The surrounding environment can also influence radiocarbon ages.
The introduction of "old" or "artificial" carbon into the atmosphere (i.e., the "Suess Effect" and "Atom Bomb Effect", respectively) can influence the ages of dates making them appear older or younger than they actually are.
Radiocarbon analyses are carried out at specialized laboratories around the world (see a list of labs at: When a biological organism dies, the radioactive carbon in its body begins to break down or decay.
This process of decay occurs at a regular rate and can be measured.