Archaeology and radiocarbon dating

Other important issues where (super 14) C results have been of particular importance include the origins and development of New World agriculture and the determination of the relationship between the western and Mayan calendars.

It has been suggested that the great success of (super 14) C was an important factor in redirecting the focus of American archaeological scholarship in the 1960s from chronology building to theory building, led to a noticeable improvement in US archaeological field methods, and provided a major catalyst that moved American archaeologists increasingly to direct attention to analytical and statistical approaches in the manipulation and evaluation of archaeological data.

By measuring the amount of carbon-14 left in the organism, scientists can estimate how long ago the organism died. In recent years, scientists have refined methods for radiocarbon dating.

Accelerated mass spectrometry, or AMS, is more precise than standard radiocarbon dating and can be performed on smaller samples.

When introduced almost five decades ago, radiocarbon ( (super 14) C) dating provided New World archaeologists with a common chronometric scale that transcended the countless site-specific and regional schemes that had been developed by four generations of field researchers employing a wide array of criteria for distinguishing relative chronological phases.

A topic of long standing interest in New World studies where (super 14) C values have played an especially critical role is the temporal framework for the initial peopling of the New World.

Learn more: Radiocarbon Dating is an "Archae Interactive" module from North Carolina State University.

This is how carbon dating works: Carbon is a naturally abundant element found in the atmosphere, in the earth, in the oceans, and in every living creature.

When an organism dies, be it a plant or an animal, the carbon acquired during its lifetime begins to decay at a steady, predictable rate, releasing carbon-14, a radioactive isotope with a half-life of 5,730 years.

When a creature dies, it ceases to consume more radiocarbon while the C-14 already in its body continues to decay back into nitrogen.

So, if we find the remains of a dead creature whose C-12 to C-14 ratio is half of what it's supposed to be (that is, one C-14 atom for every two trillion C-12 atoms instead of one in every trillion) we can assume the creature has been dead for about 5,730 years (since half of the radiocarbon is missing, it takes about 5,730 years for half of it to decay back into nitrogen).

And finally, this dating scheme is controversial because the dates derived are often wildly inconsistent. Jesus, the creator and eternal Son of God, who lived a sinless life, loves us so much that He died for our sins, taking the punishment that we deserve, was buried, and rose from the dead according to the Bible.

For example, "One part of Dima [a famous baby mammoth discovered in 1977] was 40,000 RCY [Radiocarbon Years], another was 26,000 RCY, and 'wood found immediately around the carcass' was 9,000-10,000 RCY." (Walt Brown, In the Beginning, 2001, p. If you truly believe and trust this in your heart, receiving Jesus alone as your Savior, declaring, "Jesus is Lord," you will be saved from judgment and spend eternity with God in heaven.