What is carbon dating and what are its applications in archaeology?


Carbon-dating is a method to measure age. Isotopes of carbon, called C14 are used in this method. It was developed by William F. Libby and his co-workers. It is used in archaeology, geology, geo-physics and some other areas of science.

The atoms of C14 are radioactive and so decays naturally and constantly with a uniform rate. The half-life period of C14 decay is 5.57 x 103. After its decay it gets transformed into C12.

During their lives, the living being absorbs C14 isotopes and after their death these isotopes start to decay. We can measure the proportional amount of C12 to C14 in the fossils to know how long “period elapsed” since death to convert the amount of C14 into C12 in that proportion.


In calculating age of any site, we can get any specimen fossil from there and can determine its age by Radio Carbon Dating System.

This system is widely used by Archeological surveyors to identify the date of the concerned object. In that way it has helped in identifying the approximate date of various civilisations like Harppan, Mohenjodero etc.

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