Carbon dating paint
In 1939, Martin Kamen and Samuel Ruben of the Radiation Laboratory at Berkeley began experiments to determine if any of the elements common in organic matter had isotopes with half-lives long enough to be of value in biomedical research.
They synthesized Libby and several collaborators proceeded to experiment with methane collected from sewage works in Baltimore, and after isotopically enriching their samples they were able to demonstrate that they contained radioactive .
The resulting radiocarbon combines with atmospheric oxygen to form radioactive carbon dioxide, which is incorporated into plants by photosynthesis; animals then acquire in a sample from a dead plant or animal such as a piece of wood or a fragment of bone provides information that can be used to calculate when the animal or plant died.
Fragments of charcoal, however, may have a time width that can’t be quantified.
One of the main assumptions of radiocarbon dating is that the organism’s time of death is also the time it ceased carbon exchange with the biosphere.
Charcoal and wood are two of the most widely used materials for accelerator mass spectrometry (AMS) radiocarbon dating.
AMS labs prefer to carbon date charcoal and wood because these materials do not need complex pretreatment.