How It Works: Carbon has 3 isotopic forms: Carbon-12, Carbon-13, and Carbon-14.
The numbers refer to the atomic weight, so Carbon-12 has 6 protons and 6 neutrons, Carbon-13 has 6 protons and 7 neutrons, and Carbon-14 has 6 protons and 8 neutrons.
In 1949, American chemist Willard Libby, who worked on the development of the atomic bomb, published the first set of radiocarbon dates.
His radiocarbon dating technique is the most important development in absolute dating in archaeology and remains the main tool for dating the past 50,000 years.
As long as there is organic material present, radiocarbon dating is a universal dating technique that can be applied anywhere in the world.
In 11,460 years, half of the 50% will remain, or 25%, and so on.
Radiocarbon is then taken in by plants through photosynthesis, and these plants in turn are consumed by all the organisms on the planet.
So every living thing has a certain amount of radiocarbon within them.
Absolute dating represents the absolute age of the sample before the present.
Historical documents and calendars can be used to find such absolute dates; however, when working in a site without such documents, it is hard for absolute dates to be determined.