Dictionary of Human Evolution and Biology

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Radiocarbon Dating

System of chronometric dating that exploits the rate of decay of carbon 14, which has an empirical half-life of 5,568 years, into nitrogen

14. By measuring the ratio of carbon 14 to carbon 12 or of carbon 14 to nitrogen 14, the absolute age of organic objects such as wood, bone, leather and charcoal can be determined. The useful range of the conventional technique of radiocarbon dating is from the very recent to about 60 kya.

See accelerator mass spectrometry, carbon, and nitrogen.

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