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account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies.If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your To send this article to your Kindle, first ensure [email protected] added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Note you can select to send to either the @free.or @variations.Radiocarbon dating has been one of the most significant discoveries in 20th century science.Renfrew (1973) called it 'the radiocarbon revolution' in describing its impact upon the human sciences.

There is a quantitative relationship between the decay of 14C and the production of a beta particle. That is, the probability of decay for an atom of 14C in a discrete sample is constant, thereby requiring the application of statistical methods for the analysis of counting data.

The reaction is: (Where n is a neutron and p is a proton).

The 14C formed is rapidly oxidised to 14CO2 and enters the earth's plant and animal lifeways through photosynthesis and the food chain.

Plants and animals which utilise carbon in biological foodchains take up 14C during their lifetimes.

They exist in equilibrium with the C14 concentration of the atmosphere, that is, the numbers of C14 atoms and non-radioactive carbon atoms stays approximately the same over time.


  1. CALIB Radiocarbon Calibration M. Stuiver, P. J. Reimer, and R. Reimer Execute Version 7.1html Operating Instructions What's New. Any questions or comments regarding CALIB should be directed to Prof. Paula Reimer [email protected]

  2. If the measured radiocarbon concentration is higher than 100 pMC, it is evident that the sample is dated back to the Bomb Peak period. International agreed Bomb Peak curves are published the most recent updated datasets have been published on Radiocarbon Hua et al. Radiocarbon 55 2013, p. 2059.

  3. Inland water bodies contain significant amounts of carbon in the form of dissolved inorganic carbon DIC derived from a mixture of modern atmospheric and pre-aged sources, which needs to be considered in radiocarbon-based dating

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