Renfrew (1973) called it 'the radiocarbon revolution' in describing its impact upon the human sciences.
Oakley (1979) suggested its development meant an almost complete re-writing of the evolution and cultural emergence of the human species.
More accurate methods were developed using gas-proportional counters and liquid-scintillation counters.
Desmond Clark (1979) wrote that were it not for radiocarbon dating, "we would still be foundering in a sea of imprecisions sometime bred of inspired guesswork but more often of imaginative speculation" (Clark, 1979:7).
Writing of the European Upper Palaeolithic, Movius (1960) concluded that "time alone is the lens that can throw it into focus".
Mean calibrated age ranges of Rattus exulans (520-435 BP and 350-330 BP at 95% confidence level) and shell (465-375 BP at 95% confidence level) from the 4 midden sites overlap.
The agreement between Rattus exulans bone gelatin dates and associated shell provides an inter-sample comparison of (super 14) C dating using both gas counting (beta decay) and AMS dating techniques.
Stratigraphy is based on the law of superposition--like a layer cake, the lowest layers must have been formed first.
In other words, artifacts found in the upper layers of a site will have been deposited more recently than those found in the lower layers.
For more information on stratigraphy and how it is used in archaeology, see the Stratigraphy glossary entry.
A suite of 6 bone gelatin accelerator mass spectrometry (AMS) radiocarbon dates for Rattus exulans Peale and associated beta decay (super 14) C dates for Austrovenus stutchburyi shell are presented for 4 middens at Pauatahanui, Wellington, New Zealand.
At the kinetic energies typically used in an AMS system it is possible to use well-established nuclear physics techniques to detect the individual C ions as they arrive at a suitable particle detector.
This may be a solid-state detector or a device based on the gridded ionisation chamber.
Collisions with carbon or gas atoms in the stripper remove several electrons from the carbon ions, changing their polarity from negative to positive. The positive ions are then accelerated through the second stage of the accelerator, reaching kinetic energies of the order of 10 to 30 million electron volts. This problem is solved in the tandem accelerator at the stripper –if three or more electrons are removed from the molecular ions the molecules dissociate into their component atoms. The kinetic energy that had accumulated up to now is distributed among the separate atoms, none of which has the same energy as a single C from the more intense "background" caused by the dissociated molecules on the basis of their kinetic energy.