How to do radiocarbon dating problems
These new techniques can have a dramatic effect on chronologies.
With the development of a new method of cleaning charcoal called ABOx-SC, Michael Bird helped to push back the date of arrival of the first humans in Australia by more than 10,000 years.
In the early years of radiocarbon dating a product’s decay was measured, but this required huge samples (e.g. Many labs now use an Accelerator Mass Spectrometer (AMS), a machine that can detect and measure the presence of different isotopes, to count the individual C atoms in a sample.This method requires less than 1g of bone, but few countries can afford more than one or two AMSs, which cost more than A0,000.Australia has two machines dedicated to radiocarbon analysis, and they are out of reach for much of the developing world.Radiocarbon dates are presented in two ways because of this complication.
The uncalibrated date is given with the unit BP (radiocarbon years before 1950).
If 1% of the carbon in a 50,000 year old sample is from a modern contaminant, the sample will be dated to around 40,000 years.