Writing of the European Upper Palaeolithic, Movius (1960) concluded that "time alone is the lens that can throw it into focus".
The radiocarbon method was developed by a team of scientists led by the late Professor Willard F.
After 5,730 years, the amount of carbon 14 left in the body is half of the original amount.
If the amount of carbon 14 is halved every 5,730 years, it will not take very long to reach an amount that is too small to analyze.
Thus, one carbon 14 atom exists in nature for every 1,000,000,000,000 C12 atoms in living material.
The radiocarbon method is based on the rate of decay of the radioactive or unstable carbon isotope 14 (14C), which is formed in the upper atmosphere through the effect of cosmic ray neutrons upon nitrogen 14.
There are three principal isotopes of carbon which occur naturally - C12, C13 (both stable) and C14 (unstable or radioactive).
These isotopes are present in the following amounts C12 - 98.89%, C13 - 1.11% and C14 - 0.00000000010%.
Oakley (1979) suggested its development meant an almost complete re-writing of the evolution and cultural emergence of the human species.
Desmond Clark (1979) wrote that were it not for radiocarbon dating, "we would still be foundering in a sea of imprecisions sometime bred of inspired guesswork but more often of imaginative speculation" (Clark, 1979:7).
We know that it is older than Christendom, but whether by a couple of years or a couple of centuries, or even by more than a millenium, we can do no more than guess." [Rasmus Nyerup, (Danish antiquarian), 1802 (in Trigger, 19)].