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.
The Greeks consider the first Olympic Games as the beginning or 776 BC.
Shellfish remains are common in coastal and estuarine archaeological sites, but dating these samples require a correction for the “reservoir effect” a process whereby "old carbon" is recycled and incorporated into marine life especially shellfish inflating their actual age in some cases several centuries.
In recognition of this problem archaeologists have developed regional reservoir correction rates based on ocean bottom topography, water temperature, coastline shape and paired samples of terrestrial and marine objects found together in an archaeological feature such as a hearth.
There are two techniques for dating in archaeological sites: relative and absolute dating.
Relative dating stems from the idea that something is younger or older relative to something else.
The extra neutrons in Carbon-14’s case make it radioactive (thus the term, radiocarbon).
Radiocarbon is produced in the upper atmosphere after Nitrogen-14 isotopes have been impacted by cosmic radiation.
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.
Looking at the graph, 100% of radiocarbon in a sample will be reduced to 50% after 5730 years.