“The expense and time consuming nature of conventional methods will also no longer be a barrier and it’s likely that many more samples will be able to be taken with significant benefits to the archaeological record.” It is anticipated that the first new QMS unit of its type is will be commercially available for field trials by archaeologists in 2016.
In the 1940s, scientists succeeded in finding out how long it takes for radiocarbon to disappear, or decay, from a sample of carbon from a dead plant or animal.
Willard Libby, the principal scientist, had worked in the team making the nuclear bomb during World War 2, so he was an expert in nuclear and atomic chemistry.
We know that it is older than Christendom, but whether by a couple of years or a couple of centuries, or even by more than a millenium, we can do no more than guess." [Rasmus Nyerup, (Danish antiquarian), 1802 (in Trigger, 19)].
The person who wrote these words lived in the 1800s, many years before archaeologists could accurately date materials from archaeological sites using scientific methods.
Mass spectometer The new technology uses a quadrupole mass spectrometer (QMS) which will reduce the time it takes to obtain data for a bone sample to just two days.
Significantly the technology can also be utilised onsite, and this is the first time this has been attempted.
Welcome to the K12 section of the Radiocarbon WEBinfo site.
The aim here is to provide clear, understandable information relating to radiocarbon dating for the benefit of K12 students, as well as lay people who are not requiring detailed information about the method of radiocarbon dating itself.
Libby later received the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1960 for the radiocarbon discovery.