Define carbon dating
The gas was then condensed, and converted to calcium carbonate in order to allow the removal of any radon gas and any other combustion products such as oxides of nitrogen and sulphur.
Not all material can be dated by this method; only samples containing organic matter can be tested: the date found will be the date of death of the plants or animals from which the sample originally came.
The unstable carbon-14 gradually decays to carbon-12 at a steady rate. Scientists measure the ratio of carbon isotopes to be able to estimate how far back in time a biological sample was active or alive.
This plot shows the level of carbon-14 in the atmosphere as measured in New Zealand (red) and Austria (green), representing the Southern and Northern Hemispheres, respectively.
The proteins in burnt bone are usually destroyed, which means that after acid treatment, nothing testable will be left of the bone.
Degradation of the protein fraction can also occur in hot, arid conditions, without actual burning; then the degraded components can be washed away by groundwater.