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Radiocarbon dating—also known as carbon-14 dating—is a technique used by archaeologists and historians to determine the age of organic material.
It can theoretically be used to date anything that was alive any time during the last 60,000 years or so, including charcoal from ancient fires, wood used in construction or tools, cloth, bones, seeds, and leather.
It cannot be applied to inorganic material such as stone tools or ceramic pottery.
The technique is based on measuring the ratio of two isotopes of carbon.
This turns out not to be exactly true, and so there is an inherent error between a raw "radiocarbon date" and the true calendar date.
To correct for this, scientists have compared radiocarbon dates from objects who's age is known by other means, such as artifacts from Egyptian tombs, and growth rings from ancient trees.
In this way, calibration tables have been developed that eliminate the discrepancy.