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Posted by / 02-Jun-2020 07:50

C 14 dating

A sample of acacia wood from the tomb of the pharoah Zoser (or Djoser; 3rd Dynasty, ca. Libby reasoned that since the half-life of C years, they should obtain a C14 concentration of about 50% that which was found in living wood (see Libby, 1949 for further details).The results they obtained indicated this was the case.These isotopes are present in the following amounts C12 - 98.89%, C13 - 1.11% and C14 - 0.00000000010%.

There are three principal isotopes of carbon which occur naturally - C12, C13 (both stable) and C14 (unstable or radioactive).

By measuring the C14 concentration or residual radioactivity of a sample whose age is not known, it is possible to obtain the countrate or number of decay events per gram of Carbon.

By comparing this with modern levels of activity (1890 wood corrected for decay to 1950 AD) and using the measured half-life it becomes possible to calculate a date for the death of the sample.

Renfrew (1973) called it 'the radiocarbon revolution' in describing its impact upon the human sciences.

Oakley (1979) suggested its development meant an almost complete re-writing of the evolution and cultural emergence of the human species.

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Nyerup's words illustrate poignantly the critical power and importance of dating; to order time.