These new techniques can have a dramatic effect on chronologies.
With the development of a new method of cleaning charcoal called ABOx-SC, Michael Bird helped to push back the date of arrival of the first humans in Australia by more than 10,000 years.
Professor Willard Libby produced the first radiocarbon dates in 1949 and was later awarded the Nobel Prize for his efforts.
Radiocarbon dating works by comparing the three different isotopes of carbon.
If 1% of the carbon in a 50,000 year old sample is from a modern contaminant, the sample will be dated to around 40,000 years.
View the full list Radiocarbon dating has transformed our understanding of the past 50,000 years.
Isotopes of a particular element have the same number of protons in their nucleus, but different numbers of neutrons.
This means that although they are very similar chemically, they have different masses.
In the 19th and early 20th century incredibly patient and careful archaeologists would link pottery and stone tools in different geographical areas by similarities in shape and patterning.
Then, by using the idea that the styles of objects evolve, becoming increasing elaborate over time, they could place them in order relative to each other - a technique called seriation.