Carbon dating requires two things. The object must contain measurable amounts of the isotope Carbon 14. Scientists must also have an object from the present that can accurately represent the Carbon 14 the dated object had when it was created. Comparing the difference between them is how age is determined, so if there are insufficient amounts of Carbon 14 or there is nothing like it around today to compare it with, carbon dating cannot be accurately used.
Carbon dating can determine the age of anything containing carbon that is less than about 62,000 years old. Anything older than that must be dated using other methods.
Conventional carbon dating can damage artifacts because it requires that a large sample be extracted. The method hasn’t been used on many ancient discoveries because they are too valuable. Scientists are now perfecting a technique called “non-destructive carbon dating”. They hope this new method will allow them to date artifacts that were previously off-limits because of their value.
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