Carbon dating of wood

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Libby of the University of Chicago in immediate post-WW2 years.

Many archaeological chronologies, including that of the Hohokam in southern Arizona, are based on a series of radiocarbon dates on wood.

As explained below, the radiocarbon date tells us when the organism was alive (not when the material was used).

This fact should always be remembered when using radiocarbon dates.

Materials suitable for radiocarbon dating include charcoal, wood and other plant matter, soils and sediments, shells, bone, carbonates, dissolved inorganic carbonate (DIC), methane and hydrocarbons, and food products.

Renfrew (1973) called it 'the radiocarbon revolution' in describing its impact upon the human sciences.For radiocarbon dating to be possible, the material must once have been part of a living organism.This means that things like stone, metal and pottery cannot usually be directly dated by this means unless there is some organic material embedded or left as a residue.Writing of the European Upper Palaeolithic, Movius (1960) concluded that "time alone is the lens that can throw it into focus".The radiocarbon method was developed by a team of scientists led by the late Professor Willard F.

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