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The radiocarbon method was developed by a team of scientists led by the late Professor Willard F.
Libby of the University of Chicago after the end of World War 2.
You can work out that after about 50 000 years of time, all the radiocarbon will have gone.
Therefore, radiocarbon dating is not able to date anything older than 60 or 70 000 years old.
Welcome to the K12 section of the Radiocarbon WEBinfo site.
After another 5568 years, again another half will have disappeared.
Rasmus Nyerup's quote reminds us of the tremendous scientific advances which have taken place in the 20th century.
In Nyerup's time, archaeologists could date the past only by using recorded histories, which in Europe were based mainly on the Egyptian calendar.
The half-life refers to the amount of time it takes for half the radiocarbon in a sample of bone or shell or any carbon sample to disappear.
Libby found that it took 5568 years for half the radiocarbon to decay.
The job of a radiocarbon laboratory is to measure the remaining amounts of radiocarbon in a carbon sample.