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An age could be estimated by measuring the amount of carbon-14 present in the sample and comparing this against an internationally used reference standard.
The impact of the radiocarbon dating technique on modern man has made it one of the most significant discoveries of the 20th century.
Pretreatment of samples was discussed very early by de Vries and collaborators, among others. Closely related to pretreatment is the choice of fraction to be dated and chemicals to be used, especially for accelerator mass spectrometry (AMS) measurements.
Calibration against tree rings and comparison with dates obtained using other methods as well as intercomparison projects are partly history but still very actual.
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It is rapidly oxidized in air to form carbon dioxide and enters the global carbon cycle.
Plants and animals assimilate carbon 14 from carbon dioxide throughout their lifetimes.
By knowing how much carbon 14 is left in a sample, the age of the organism when it died can be known.