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Because the half-life of carbon-14 is 5730 years carbon dating is only reliable about up to 60,000 years, radiocarbon is less useful to date some recent sites. This technique usually cannot pinpoint the date of a site better than historic records.

Carbon-14 is an unstable isotope of normal carbon, carbon-12.

Other radiometric dating techniques are available for earlier periods.

One of the most widely used is potassium-argon dating (K-Ar dating).

For this reason, many archaeologists prefer to use samples from short-lived plants for radiocarbon dating.

The development of accelerator mass spectrometry (AMS) dating, which allows a date to be obtained from a very small sample, has been very useful in this regard.

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