Radiocarbon Dating

  • By David Levin
  • Posted 11.18.08
  • NOVA

Archeologists use various methods to date objects. Inscriptions, distinctive markings, and historical documents can all offer clues to an artifact's age. And if the artifact is organic—like wood or bone—researchers can turn to a method called radiocarbon dating. In this interactive, learn how radiocarbon dating works, what it takes to determine a date in the lab, and why it's challenging to pinpoint a date precisely.

Launch Interactive

What is carbon-14 anyway, and how can it reveal the date of an ancient artifact?



("In the Lab" photographs)
© Rachel VanCott/WGBH Educational Foundation
("In the Lab" diagrams)
Courtesy Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution
(Bill Jenkins)
Courtesy Bill Jenkins

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