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We know that it is older than Christendom, but whether by a couple of years or a couple of centuries, or even by more than a millenium, we can do no more than guess." [Rasmus Nyerup, (Danish antiquarian), 1802 (in Trigger, 19)].The person who wrote these words lived in the 1800s, many years before archaeologists could accurately date materials from archaeological sites using scientific methods.Rasmus Nyerup's quote reminds us of the tremendous scientific advances which have taken place in the 20th century.In Nyerup's time, archaeologists could date the past only by using recorded histories, which in Europe were based mainly on the Egyptian calendar.

This means that its atomic structure is not stable and there is an uneasy relationship between the particles in the nucleus of the atom itself.

The half-life refers to the amount of time it takes for half the radiocarbon in a sample of bone or shell or any carbon sample to disappear.

Libby found that it took 5568 years for half the radiocarbon to decay.

The radiocarbon method was developed by a team of scientists led by the late Professor Willard F.

Libby of the University of Chicago after the end of World War 2.