Radiocarbon dating limitations les dating home
Radiocarbon dating uses the naturally occurring isotope Carbon-14 to approximate the age of organic materials. Often, archaeologists use graves and plant remains to date sites.
Since its conception by Willard Libby in 1949, it has been invaluable to the discipline.
If an archaeologist wanted to date a dead tree to see when humans used it to build tools, their readings would be significantly thrown off.
This is because radiocarbon dating gives the date when the tree ceased its intake of Carbon-14—not when it was being used for weapons and other instruments!
The technology uses a series of mathematical calculations—the most recognizable of which is known as half-life—to estimate the age the organism stopped ingesting the isotope.
Unfortunately, the amount of Carbon-14 in the atmosphere has not been steady throughout history.
Though the calibrated date is more precise, many scholars still use the uncalibrated date in order to keep chronologies consistent in academic communities.
Though it’s biggest, the calibration problem is not the only flaw of radiocarbon dating.
The “Old Wood Problem” is the last flaw of radiocarbon dating that will be elaborated upon here.As the lecture detailed, it is only accurate from about 62,000 years ago to 1,200 A. There is a sizable amount of time before and after that period that cannot be investigated using this method.Also, archaeologists cannot use their hands to touch the samples or smoke near them.Despite its overuse and misrepresentation in the media, it is nonetheless extremely valuable.This process has seriously assisted archaeologists in their research, excavations, and scholarly studies.
Cosmic rays and changes in Earth’s climate can cause irregularities in the amount of Carbon-14 in the atmosphere.