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Compared to conventional radiocarbon techniques such as Libby's solid carbon counting, the gas counting method popular in the mid-1950s, or liquid scintillation (LS) counting, AMS permitted the dating of much smaller sized samples with even greater precision.Regardless of the particular 14C technique used, the value of this tool for archaeology has clearly been appreciated.Since its introduction it has been used to date many well-known items, including samples of the Dead Sea Scrolls, enough Egyptian artifacts to supply a chronology of Dynastic Egypt, and Otzi the iceman.Willard Libby at the University of Chicago developed the technique of radiocarbon dating in 1949.Libby estimated that the steady state radioactivity concentration of exchangeable carbon 14 would be about 14 disintegrations per minute (dpm) per gram.In 1960, Libby was awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry for this work.He demonstrated the accuracy of radiocarbon dating by accurately estimating the age of wood from a series of samples for which the age was known, including an ancient Egyptian royal barge of 1850 BCE.The dating method is based on the fact that carbon is found in various forms, including the main stable isotope (carbon 12) and an unstable isotope (carbon 14).

Willard Libby tested during the radiocarbon dating development process was this wood from an ancient Egyptian coffin.In contrast to relative dating techniques whereby artifacts were simply designated as "older" or "younger" than other cultural remains based on the presence of fossils or stratigraphic position, 14C dating provided an easy and increasingly accessible way for archaeologists to construct chronologies of human behavior and examine temporal changes through time at a finer scale than what had previously been possible.The application of Accelerator Mass Spectrometry (AMS) for radiocarbon dating in the late 1970s was also a major achievement.We’ll keep you informed as we make, quite literally, new headway!Jo Anne Van Tilburg Easter Island Statue Project August 12- 31, 2014 Dr.