Libby’s UCLA Radiocarbon Laboratory: Contributions to Archaeology

  • Rainer Berger


Willard F Libby’s research, leading to the discovery of radiocarbon dating, was principally carried out at the University of Chicago after World War II with his main collaborators, E C Anderson and J R Arnold. At the behest of Libby, A V Grosse and his collaborators at the Houdry Process Corporation demonstrated the existence of radiocarbon in nature by concentrating the isotope from a source of biogenic methane. A Committee on Carbon-14 was formed from members of the American Anthropological Association and the Geological Society of America to select a significant slate of samples for dating. Committee members were Frederick Johnson, Donald Collier, Richard Foster Flint and Froelich Rainey, who all assisted Libby with advice and dating priorities. The basic technique for measuring radiocarbon was solid carbon dating, which Libby described in detail in his book entitled “Radiocarbon Dating” and two updated editions. Typically, samples were counted for 48 hours to accommodate the large numbers submitted. All radiocarbon dates obtained prior to the fall of 1951 by Libby’s original research team are listed in his publications (Libby 1952, 1955, 1965).


Radiocarbon Date Accelerator Mass Spectrometry Accelerator Mass Spectrometry Fire Area American Anthropological Association 
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© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1992

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  • Rainer Berger

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