Carbon 14 in archaeological dating
Carbon-14 has a relatively short half-life of 5,730 years, meaning that the fraction of carbon-14 in a sample is halved over the course of 5,730 years due to radioactive decay to nitrogen-14.
The carbon-14 isotope would vanish from Earth's atmosphere in less than a million years were it not for the constant influx of cosmic rays interacting with molecules of nitrogen (N) into organic compounds during photosynthesis, the resulting fraction of the isotope 14C in the plant tissue will match the fraction of the isotope in the atmosphere.
Radiocarbon dating is the most widely used absolute chronometric method in archaeology, covering the last 55–60 000 years.
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Carbon-14 dating is a way of determining the age of certain archeological artifacts of a biological origin up to about 50,000 years old.
It is used in dating things such as bone, cloth, wood and plant fibers that were created in the relatively recent past by human activities.
The development of a curve to cover the entire ∼55 000 years of the radiocarbon timescale is the objective of a number of research groups currently.
Direct ion counting techniques for measuring the C isotope (so called accelerator mass spectrometry, or AMS dating) have revolutionised the field of dating.
Different isotopes tend to concentrate in particular organs: for example, iodine-131 settles in the thyroid gland and can reveal a variety of defects in thyroid functioning.