It can be used on objects as old as about 62,000 years.Follow the links below to learn more about radiocarbon dating. Radiocarbon dating uses carbon isotopes A special kind of radiocarbon dating: Bomb radiocarbon dating What is an isotope?
Typically (6): The above list is not exhaustive; most organic material is suitable so long as it is of sufficient age and has not mineralised - dinosaur bones are out as they no longer have any carbon left.
Materials that originally came from living things, such as wood and natural fibres, can be dated by measuring the amount of carbon-14 they contain.
For example, in 1991, two hikers discovered a mummified man, preserved for centuries in the ice on an alpine mountain.
There are three carbon isotopes that occur as part of the Earth's natural processes; these are carbon-12, carbon-13 and carbon-14.
The unstable nature of carbon 14 (with a precise half-life that makes it easy to measure) means it is ideal as an absolute dating method.