14C dating with the new Vienna Environmental Research Accelerator (VERA) began with the age determination of a mummified marmot found in the Austrian Alpine region. Soft tissue and bones of the marmot were used for the investigation. For comparison, bone material from known-age samples was also processed and measured. These exercises showed that 14C dating with VERA is reliable, and since that time various samples from archaeological context have been dated.
We also studied the applicability of the 14C method in forensic sciences to determine the time of death of human individuals. 14C/12C measurements of samples from different organic human material (bone collagen, lipids from bone and bone marrow, hair) were performed and compared with the tropospheric “bomb peak” values to transform the measured ratios into “calibrated ages”. For specific substances with rapid turnover rates, this gives an estimate for the time of death of the individual. In our study, lipids and hair yield reasonable times of death, whereas the collagen fraction from bones, which has a relatively long turnover time, is not suitable for this purpose.