Shellfish remains are common in coastal and estuarine archaeological sites, but dating these samples require a correction for the “reservoir effect” a process whereby "old carbon" is recycled and incorporated into marine life especially shellfish inflating their actual age in some cases several centuries.In recognition of this problem archaeologists have developed regional reservoir correction rates based on ocean bottom topography, water temperature, coastline shape and paired samples of terrestrial and marine objects found together in an archaeological feature such as a hearth.As long as there is organic material present, radiocarbon dating is a universal dating technique that can be applied anywhere in the world.It is good for dating for the last 50,000 years to about 400 years ago and can create chronologies for areas that previously lacked calendars.In fact, levels of Carbon-14 have varied in the atmosphere through time.One good example would be the elevated levels of Carbon-14 in our atmosphere since WWII as a result of atomic bombs testing.
Plants are not the only organism that can process Carbon-14 from the air.
In 1949, American chemist Willard Libby, who worked on the development of the atomic bomb, published the first set of radiocarbon dates.
His radiocarbon dating technique is the most important development in absolute dating in archaeology and remains the main tool for dating the past 50,000 years.
Limitations and calibration: When Libby was first determining radiocarbon dates, he found that before 1000 BC his dates were earlier than calendar dates.
He had assumed that amounts of Carbon-14 in the atmosphere had remained constant through time.