Lifeways

Radiocarbon Dating

Radiocarbon dating is a scientific analytical technique used for determining the age of samples which were once alive (eg. bone, charcoal, leather). All organisms contain carbon, some of which is radioactive 14C, an isotope that is continuously being formed in the upper atmosphere. As living organisms take up radiocarbon along with other carbon atoms, the ratio between the two forms remains constant. However when they die the radiocarbon decays and is not replaced. Since it decays at a known constant rate, the decreasing concentration of 14C can be measured and the date when the material died estimated. Radiocarbon dating is one of the principal tools that archaeologists use to determine the age of the sites they investigate.

As a research tool, Lifeways regularly carries out radiocarbon dating. For this purpose we use only creditable laboratories offering competitive rates.

 

Did you know that...

Through the excavation of Historic period archaeological sites we can gain knowledge about the recent past that people did not often record in writing?