However its application has caused extreme confusion and misunderstanding of the archaeological record.Knowing the limitations of this dating method can help avoid colossal archaeological misinterpretations that would otherwise distort history.
When an organism dies, be it a plant or an animal, the carbon acquired during its lifetime begins to decay at a steady, predictable rate, releasing carbon-14, a radioactive isotope with a half-life of 5,730 years.
The stable C12 and C13, and the unstable or radioactive Carbon 14. Only one C14 atom exists for every one trillion C12 atoms.
Nitrogen atoms in the upper atmosphere are struck by cosmic radiation and create C14 atoms.
These various chronologies and their inherent inconsistencies, known as ‘relative dates,’ are a constant series of hurdles in the quest of historians and archaeologists to record mankind’s existence on earth.
However, in the 1940s, the organization of time was transformed by the revelation of radiometric dating and the subsequent creation of a scientific chronology of humankind, known as ‘absolute dating’.