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The University of Waikato's radiocarbon dating laboratory helped to identify the remains of a woman found in New South Wales 45 years after she went missing. The method was developed by Willard Libby in the late 1940s and soon became a standard tool for archaeologists.Radiocarbon dating has allowed key transitions in prehistory to be dated, such as the end of the last ice age, and the beginning of the Neolithic and Bronze Age in different regions.

Liquid scintillation spectrometry involves converting all of the carbon in the sample to a liquid called benzene.The resulting data, in the form of a calibration curve, is now used to convert a given measurement of radiocarbon in a sample into an estimate of the sample's calendar age.Other corrections must be made to account for the proportion of throughout the biosphere (reservoir effects).In addition to permitting more accurate dating within archaeological sites than previous methods, it allows comparison of dates of events across great distances.Histories of archaeology often refer to its impact as the "radiocarbon revolution".

Accelerated mass spectrometry (AMS) is the other technique used.

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