Archeology and carbon dating
Archaeologists have discovered a mysterious square slap bang in the middle of one of the UK’s most well-known Neolithic monuments The associated standing stones, barrow, and avenues near Avebury, located in Wiltshire in the…The imposing Judahite fortress of Khirbet Qeiyafa has been securely dated by pottery and radiocarbon analysis to the early tenth century B. Proponents of low Bible chronology, called minimalists, claim the transition occurred around 920 to 900 B. Proponents of a high Bible chronology put the date around 1000 to 980 B. Some scholars have asked if radiocarbon dating accuracy will help settle the question. Radioactive carbon-14 is used to analyze an organic material, such as wood, seeds, or bones, to determine a date of the material’s growth.Thousands of Taino paintings, including human and animal designs, extend deep into the caves on Puerto Rico’s Mona Island.For the last four years, archaeologists have been exploring cave systems on Mona Island, which…The question I would like to raise is whether radiocarbon dating is really more precise, objective and reliable than the traditional way of dating when applied to the problem of the date of the transition from Iron I to Iron IIa.This question is sharpened in light of the fact that the uncertainty in the usual radiocarbon readings (plus or minus 25 years or so) may be as large as the difference in dates in the debate. Measuring the remaining carbon-14 content in “long-term” organic samples, such as wood, will provide the date of growth of the tree, rather than the date of the archaeological stratum in which the sample was found.When the organism dies the C-14 is no longer replaced and that which remains decays at a constant rate.The time it takes for one half of a radioactive isotope to decay is known as its ‘half-life.
Ultimately, radiocarbon dating accuracy for calculating Iron Age dates, and consequentially Bible chronology has varied from researcher to researcher.
Furthermore, wooden beams were reused in later strata, which can result in even greater differences in date.
Since these “long-term” samples may introduce the “old wood” effect, any calculation of precise absolute dates based on “long-term” samples is unreliable and may easily lead to errors of up to several decades or even more.
Potentially, archaeologists could receive results within days of taking a sample, which could have a huge impact on the way a site is interpreted, as well as help to direct the next phase of excavation.
It’s a hugely exciting prospect, and a development Dig Ventures will be following with great interest!
[Read more: C is for Carbon Dating] The university’s Department of Electrical Engineering & Electronics has received funding from Arts Council England to develop this technique as a portable device, and appear confident that their attempts will be a success.