Pretreatment — It is important to understand the pretreatment applied to samples since they directly affect the final result. You are welcome to contact us to discuss the pretreatment or request that we contact you after the pretreatment and prior to dating. Pretreatment for Corals — AMS dating requires as little as 3 milligrams of coral after the pretreatment. However, we recommend milligrams be sent to allow for an aggressive cleaning prior to the dating and repeat analyses if necessary for confirming results based on quality control measures, at no additional cost to the client.
Exploring the Radiocarbon Chronology of Western Washington Shell Midden Sites
Radiocarbon dating late Quaternary loess deposits using small terrestrial gastropod shells
Since its development by Willard Libby in the s, radiocarbon 14C dating has become one of the most essential tools in archaeology. Radiocarbon dating was the first chronometric technique widely available to archaeologists and was especially useful because it allowed researchers to directly date the panoply of organic remains often found in archaeological sites including artifacts made from bone, shell, wood, and other carbon based materials. In contrast to relative dating techniques whereby artifacts were simply designated as "older" or "younger" than other cultural remains based on the presence of fossils or stratigraphic position, 14C dating provided an easy and increasingly accessible way for archaeologists to construct chronologies of human behavior and examine temporal changes through time at a finer scale than what had previously been possible. The application of Accelerator Mass Spectrometry AMS for radiocarbon dating in the late s was also a major achievement. Compared to conventional radiocarbon techniques such as Libby's solid carbon counting, the gas counting method popular in the mids, or liquid scintillation LS counting, AMS permitted the dating of much smaller sized samples with even greater precision. Regardless of the particular 14C technique used, the value of this tool for archaeology has clearly been appreciated.
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The Reliability of Radiocarbon Dating
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Samples used for radiocarbon dating must be handled carefully to avoid contamination. Not all material can be dated by this method; only samples containing organic matter can be tested: the date found will be the date of death of the plants or animals from which the sample originally came. Samples for dating need to be converted into a form suitable for measuring the 14 C content; this can mean conversion to gaseous, liquid, or solid form, depending on the measurement technique to be used.