Although it has been a tool of enormous value to archaeologists in the past 50 years, it has been limited by several factors.In most cases it requires a fairly large sample of material; samples can be easily contaminated in the process of handling; it yields a relatively wide range of possible dates; and its effective use is limited to the furthest age of 40,000 or 50,000 years.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.Nyerup's words illustrate poignantly the critical power and importance of dating; to order time.
Since then measurement of radiocarbon has been used extensively in archaeology, especially in the dating of human and animal bones.
The radiocarbon method was developed by a team of scientists led by the late Professor Willard F.
Libby of the University of Chicago in immediate post-WW2 years.
However, as the basic principles of relative dating progressed during the course of the 19th cent., investigators were able to correctly determine the relative age of many archaeological and geological materials.
Stratigraphic dating is accomplished by interpreting the significance of geological or archaeological strata, or layers.