Finally, although radiocarbon dating is the most common and widely used chronometric technique in archaeology today, it is not unfailing. Whenever possible multiple samples should be collected and dated from associated sections.The trend of the samples will provide a ball park estimate of the actual date of deposition.Later called Ötzi the Iceman, small samples from his body were carbon dated by scientists.
Radiocarbon dating, or simply carbon dating, is a technique that uses the decay of carbon 14 to estimate the age of organic materials.
This method works effectively up to about 58,000 to 62,000 years.
Since its introduction it has been used to date many well-known items, including samples of the Dead Sea Scrolls, enough Egyptian artifacts to supply a chronology of Dynastic Egypt, and Otzi the iceman.
Willard Libby at the University of Chicago developed the technique of radiocarbon dating in 1949.
The trade-off between radiocarbon dating and other techniques is that we exchange precision for a wider geographical and temporal range.
That is the true benefit of radiocarbon dating, that it can be employed anywhere in the world, and does have about a 60,000 year range.
Note that, contrary to a popular misconception, carbon dating is not used to date rocks at millions of years old.
Before we get into the details of how radiometric dating methods are used, we need to review some preliminary concepts from chemistry.
Through photosynthesis, plants absorb both forms from carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.