Dating techniques in anthropology
One of the most widely used and well-known absolute dating techniques is carbon-14 (or radiocarbon) dating, which is used to date organic remains.
This is a radiometric technique since it is based on radioactive decay.
Absolute dating provides a numerical age or range in contrast with relative dating which places events in order without any measure of the age between events.
By measuring the carbon-14 in organic material, scientists can determine the date of death of the organic matter in an artifact or ecofact.
The relatively short half-life of carbon-14, 5,730 years, makes dating reliable only up to about 50,000 years.
For this reason, many archaeologists prefer to use samples from short-lived plants for radiocarbon dating.
The development of accelerator mass spectrometry (AMS) dating, which allows a date to be obtained from a very small sample, has been very useful in this regard.