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So, we have a “clock” which starts ticking the moment something dies.
Relative dating stems from the idea that something is younger or older relative to something else.
Plants and animals naturally incorporate both the abundant C-12 isotope and the much rarer radiocarbon isotope into their tissues in about the same proportions as the two occur in the atmosphere during their lifetimes.
When a creature dies, it ceases to consume more radiocarbon while the C-14 already in its body continues to decay back into nitrogen.
The Mayan calendar used 3114 BC as their reference.
More recently is the radiocarbon date of 1950 AD or before present, BP.
In a stratigraphical context objects closer to the surface are more recent in time relative to items deeper in the ground.