Carbon 14 radio carbon dating

Desmond Clark (1979:7) observed that without radiocarbon dating "we would still be foundering in a sea of imprecisions sometime bred of inspired guesswork but more often of imaginative speculation." And as Colin Renfrew (1973) aptly noted over 30 years ago, the "Radiocarbon Revolution" transformed how archaeologists could interpret the past and track cultural changes through a period in human history where we see among other things the massive migration of peoples settling virtually every major region of the world, the transition from hunting and gathering to more intensive forms of food production, and the rise of city-states.

However, as with any dating technique there are limits to the kinds of things that can be satisfactorily dated, levels of precision and accuracy, age range constraints, and different levels of susceptibility to contamination.

Probably the most important factor to consider when using radiocarbon dating is if external factors, whether through artificial contamination, animal disturbance, or human negligence, contributed to any errors in the determinations.

When objects of the Old Kingdom and Middle Kingdom of Egypt yielded carbon dates that appeared roughly comparable with the historical dates, Libby made his method known.

With initial large margin of error and anything that did not square with expectation, judged as “contaminated,” the method appeared to work and was hailed as completely reliablejust as the atomic clock is reliableand this nobody doubted.

Ionization Inverse Square Law Interaction of RT/Matter Attenuation Coefficient Half-Value Layer Sources of Attenuation -Compton Scattering Geometric Unsharpness Filters in Radiography Scatter/Radiation Control Radiation Safety Radio-carbon dating is a method of obtaining age estimates on organic materials.

The word "estimates" is used because there is a significant amount of uncertainty in these measurements.

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