Radiocarbon dating human bones

While it decreases the amount of carbon required for a radiocarbon measurement by several orders of magnitude, the AMS dating of bone collagen still requires at least 60–200 mg of bone, depending on the protein preservation and the extraction protocol.

Carbon-14 can not be used to measure the age of very young specimens as the difference between the amount of carbon-12 and carbon-14 will not be sufficient to be detected.Hard tissues contain an organic phase (mainly the protein collagen type I) embedded in a mineral phase (made of a non-stoichiometric biogenic apatite).While the exchange of inorganic carbon occurs much more readily, the relative chemical inertness of biopolymers makes them ideal for dating; therefore, the majority of bone radiocarbon dates are obtained from the collagen phase.The advent of accelerator mass spectrometers (AMS) has revolutionized the field of archaeology but routine AMS dating still requires 60–200 mg of bone, which far exceeds that of small vertebrates or remains which hold a patrimonial value (e.g. Here, we present the first radiocarbon dates obtained from minute amounts of bone (3–60 mg) using a MIni CArbon DAting System (MICADAS).An optimized protocol allowed us to extract enough material to produce between 0.2 and 1.0 mg of carbon for graphite targets.

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