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.
A carbon film is made when the oxygen, hydrogen and nitrogen of the organism disappear, leaving a thin layer of carbon.
This process is known as distillation or carbonization.
This is calculated through careful measurement of the residual activity (per gram C) remaining in a sample whose age is Unknown, compared with the activity present in Modern and Background samples. Thus 1950, is year 0 BP by convention in radiocarbon dating and is deemed to be the 'present'.
You can get an idea of the relationship between C14 and age at the Carbon Dating calculator page. 1950 was chosen for no particular reason other than to honour the publication of the first radiocarbon dates calculated in December 1949 (Taylor, 19).
But the shroud’s origins were murky, and researchers had spent decades poring over the piece of fabric debating whether the story of its background could be true.
In 1988, thanks to a technique called radiocarbon dating, they had an answer: The shroud dated back to sometime between 12 — old, but not old enough to have been buried with Jesus.“The Carbon-14 Bombshell,” National Geographic called the news, referring to the radioactive isotope that’s used for the dating process.Carbon dating had never been, and likely never again will be, quite so glamorous — or so controversial.(Claudio Papi/Reuters) Nearly three decades ago scientists were granted access to one of the world’s most mystifying and sacred objects: the Shroud of Turin.The ancient rectangle of linen, with its strange stains in the shape of a tortured body, had long been venerated as the burial garment of Christ.Radiocarbon dating revealed that the Turin Shroud, the sacred linen cloth believed by Christians to be the burial garment of Christ, was actually less than 1000 years old.