Dating archaeological materials
During the period of a plant's life, the plant is taking in carbon dioxide through photosynthesis, which is how the plant makes energy and grows.Animals eat plants, and some eat other animals in the food chain.
Willard Libby, the principal scientist, had worked in the team making the nuclear bomb during World War 2, so he was an expert in nuclear and atomic chemistry.The C14 method has been and continues to be applied and used in many, many different fields including hydrology, atmospheric science, oceanography, geology, palaeoclimatology, archaeology and biomedicine.All plants and animals on Earth are made principally of carbon.Because carbon is very common on Earth, there are alot of different types of material which can be dated by scientists.Below is a list of the different kinds of materials which can be dated: Libby tested the new radiocarbon method on carbon samples from prehistoric Egypt whose age was known.After the war he became very interested in peaceful applications of atomic science.
He and two students first measured the "half-life" of radiocarbon.
We know that it is older than Christendom, but whether by a couple of years or a couple of centuries, or even by more than a millenium, we can do no more than guess." [Rasmus Nyerup, (Danish antiquarian), 1802 (in Trigger, 19)].
The person who wrote these words lived in the 1800s, many years before archaeologists could accurately date materials from archaeological sites using scientific methods.
Libby later received the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1960 for the radiocarbon discovery.
Today, there are over 130 radiocarbon dating laboratories around the world producing radiocarbon dates for the scientific community.
Rasmus Nyerup's quote reminds us of the tremendous scientific advances which have taken place in the 20th century.