Print Radiocarbon Dating and Archaeology Radiocarbon dating lab scientists and archaeologists should coordinate on sampling, storage and other concerns to obtain a meaningful result. The sample-context relationship must be established prior to carbon dating. The radiocarbon dating what artifacts can be carbon dated starts with measuring Carbon-14, a weakly radioactive isotope of Carbon, followed by calibration of radiocarbon age results to calendar years. History, anthropology, and archaeology are three distinct but closely related bodies of knowledge that tell man of his present by virtue of his past.
However, pre-1950 samples that are less than 100 years old or older than 60,000 years cannot be accurately dated. The reason for this has to do with the concentration of C-14 in living materials as well as the half-life of the C-14 isotope.
Optically stimulated luminescence can find out how long ago samples were last exposed to the sun. The laser, shown here in green, analyses electrons that accumulate in a crystal over millennia.