5 limitations of radiocarbon dating
The proportion of carbon 14 in the sample examined provides an indication of the time elapsed since death of the sample’s source.Radiocarbon dating results are reported in uncalibrated years BP (Before Present), where BP is defined as AD 1950.Decay of carbon 14 takes thousands of years, and it is this wonder of nature that forms the basis of radiocarbon dating and made this carbon 14 analysis a powerful tool in revealing the past.The process of radiocarbon dating starts with the analysis of the carbon 14 left in a sample.Sample type, size and packing Laboratories have limitations in terms of the samples they can process for radiocarbon dating. Laboratories must also be consulted as to the required amount of sample that they ideally like to process as well as their preference with certain samples for carbon dating.Other labs accept waterlogged wood while others prefer them dry at submission.2.The unstable and radioactive carbon 14, called radiocarbon, is a naturally occurring isotope of the element carbon.When a living thing dies, it stops interacting with the biosphere, and the carbon 14 in it remains unaffected by the biosphere but will naturally undergo decay.
Historians can tell what cultures thrived in different regions and when they disintegrated.
It is important that the radiocarbon scientists and archaeologists agree on the sampling strategy before starting the excavation so time, effort, and resources will not be wasted and meaningful result will be produced after the carbon dating process.
It must be stressed that archaeologists need to interact with radiocarbon laboratories first before excavation due to several factors.1.
Sample collection Contaminants must not be introduced to the samples during collection and storing.
Hydrocarbons, glue, biocides, polyethylene glycol or polyvinyl acetate (PVA) must not come in contact with samples for radiocarbon dating.