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Radiocarbon dating is the most frequently utilized method for gaining geochronology on archaeological sites across the world.The general reliability of the method and abundance of sites with carbon-based materials for dating have justifiably propelled radiocarbon dating to the top of the available methods for securing age control on archaeological activity.Overall, it is difficult to argue for a downside to the increased availability and applicability of radiocarbon dating, but it is important for archaeologists to handle their prime tool for dating site occupations with great care.

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Like all continents, Africa has a heterogeneous geography and should not be viewed as a single “place.” However, in the context of this review, it will become obvious that there are issues unique to radiocarbon dating in Africa that overlap other areas of the world, but combine to create circumstances specific to the continent given the history of research conducted therein.

Interested readers are urged to read more general reviews of radiocarbon dating, which discuss issues more exhaustively and globally (e.g., Bronk Ramsey ).

Accuracy refers to how close the assessed age of a sample is to the true age.

Precision refers to the statistical uncertainty associated with an age estimate—the greater the precision, the less uncertainty there is in the assessed age.

According to the University of Arizona, the publishers of ).