From these records a “calibration curve” can be built (see figure 2, below).
A huge amount of work is currently underway to extend and improve the calibration curve.
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.
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View the full list Radiocarbon dating has transformed our understanding of the past 50,000 years.
In the 19th and early 20th century incredibly patient and careful archaeologists would link pottery and stone tools in different geographical areas by similarities in shape and patterning.
Then, by using the idea that the styles of objects evolve, becoming increasing elaborate over time, they could place them in order relative to each other - a technique called seriation.
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.
Australian National University provides funding as a member of The Conversation AU.
In 2008 we could only calibrate radiocarbon dates until 26,000 years.
Now the curve extends (tentatively) to 50,000 years.
The calibrated date is also presented, either in BC or AD or with the unit cal BP (calibrated before present - before 1950).