New carbon dating
Libby and coworkers, and it has provided a way to determine the ages of different materials in archeology, geology, geophysics, and other branches of science.
The generally poor post-mortem preservation of soft tissues would be a limiting factor to this approach.
To determine year of birth, the researchers focused on tooth enamel.
Adult teeth are formed at known intervals during childhood.
The researchers found that certain soft tissues — notably blood, nails and hair — had radiocarbon levels identical to the contemporary atmosphere.
Therefore, the radiocarbon level in those tissues post-mortem would indicate the year of death.