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By using dead trees of different but overlapping ages, you can build up a library of tree rings of different calendar ages.
This has now been done for Bristlecone Pines in the U. A and waterlogged Oaks in Ireland and Germany, and Kauri in New Zealand to provide records extending back over the last 14,000 years.
There are two main methods used for calculating age ranges from the calibration curve: The first method to be employed was called the `intercept method' because it can be done by drawing intercepts on a graph.
The information from measurements on tree rings and other samples of known age (including speleothems, marine corals and samples from sedimentary records with independent dating) are all compiled into calibration curves by the Int Cal group.The first indicates the proportion of radiocarbon atoms in the sample as compared to samples modern in 1950.The second is directly derived from this on the assumption that the half-life of radiocarbon is 5568 years and the amount of radiocarbon in the atmosphere has been constant.These values should correspond exactly to normal historical years BC and AD.The term cal BP means the number of years before 1950 and can be directly compared to calendar years.
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This requires a computer since the calculations are more complicated.