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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.
The total mass of the isotope is indicated by the numerical superscript.
While the lighter isotopes C has decayed that what remains can no longer be measured. In 5,730 years half of the C in the atmosphere, and therefore in plants and animals, has not always been constant.
Radiocarbon dating was the first method that allowed archaeologists to place what they found in chronological order without the need for written records or coins.
The calibrated date is also presented, either in BC or AD or with the unit cal BP (calibrated before present - before 1950).