How is radiocarbon dating used in archaeology

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Radiocarbon dating measurements produce ages in "radiocarbon years", which must be converted to calendar ages by a process called calibration. Willard Libby , the inventor of radiocarbon dating, pointed out as early as the possibility that the ratio might have varied over time. Discrepancies began to be noted between measured ages and known historical dates for artefacts, and it became clear that a correction would need to be applied to radiocarbon ages to obtain calendar dates. The term Before Present BP is established for reporting dates derived from radiocarbon analysis, where "present" is Uncorrected dates are stated as "uncal BP", [4] and calibrated corrected dates as "cal BP". Used alone, the term BP is ambiguous.
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Radiocarbon calibration

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Explainer: what is radiocarbon dating and how does it work?

Rachel Wood does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organisation that would benefit from this article, and has disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond their academic appointment. Radiocarbon dating has transformed our understanding of the past 50, years. Professor Willard Libby produced the first radiocarbon dates in and was later awarded the Nobel Prize for his efforts. Radiocarbon dating works by comparing the three different isotopes of carbon. Isotopes of a particular element have the same number of protons in their nucleus, but different numbers of neutrons. This means that although they are very similar chemically, they have different masses.
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Radiocarbon Dating’s New Calibration Curve

This is how carbon dating works: Carbon is a naturally abundant element found in the atmosphere, in the earth, in the oceans, and in every living creature. C is by far the most common isotope, while only about one in a trillion carbon atoms is C C is produced in the upper atmosphere when nitrogen N is altered through the effects of cosmic radiation bombardment a proton is displaced by a neutron effectively changing the nitrogen atom into a carbon isotope. The new isotope is called "radiocarbon" because it is radioactive, though it is not dangerous.
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Using radiocarbon dating and CT scanning to study ancient bones, researchers have uncovered for the first time a Bronze Age tradition of retaining and curating human remains as relics over several generations. While the findings, led by the University of Bristol and published in the journal Antiquity , may seem eerie or even gruesome by today's convention, they indicate a tangible way of honouring and remembering known individuals between close communities and generations some 4, years ago. However, they treated and interacted with the dead in ways which are inconceivably macabre to us today," said lead author, Dr Thomas Booth, who carried out the radiocarbon dating work at the university's School of Chemistry. In one extraordinary case from Wiltshire, a human thigh bone had been crafted to make a musical instrument and included as a grave good with the burial of a man found close to Stonehenge. The carefully carved and polished artefact, found with other items, including stone and bronze axes, a bone plate, a tusk, and a unique ceremonial pronged object, are displayed in the Wiltshire Museum.
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