Radiocarbon dating is a method that provides objective age estimates for carbon-based materials that originated from living organisms. An age could be. "Everything which has come down to us from heathendom is wrapped in a thick fog; it belongs to a space of time we cannot measure. We know that it is older.
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In this paper they presented the first results of the C14 method, including the "Curve of Knowns" in which radiocarbon dates were compared with the known age historical dates see figure 1. The activity ratio relates to the carbon 14 activity ratio between the ancient samples and the modern activity. In the s, further measurements on Mediterranean samples, in particular those from Egypt whose age was known through other means, pointed to radiocarbon dates which were younger than expected.
The debate regarding this is outlined extensively in Renfrew Briefly, opinion was divided between those who thought the radiocarbon dates were correct ie, that radiocarbon years equated more or less to method of carbon dating or calendar years and those who felt they were flawed and the historical data was more accurate.
In addition to long term fluctuations, smaller 'wiggles' were identified by the Dutch scholar Hessel de Vries This suggested there were temporal fluctuations in C14 concentration which would neccessitate the calibration of radiocarbon dates to other historically aged material.
This enables radiocarbon dates to be calibrated to solar or calendar dates. The major developments in the radiocarbon method up to the present day involve improvements in measurement techniques and research into the dating of different materials.
Briefly, the initial solid carbon method developed by Libby and his methods of carbon dating was replaced with the Gas counting method in the 's. Today the vast majority of radiocarbon laboratories utilise these two methods of radiocarbon dating. Of major recent interest is the development of the Accelerator Mass Spectrometry method of direct C14 isotope counting.