Follow the links below to learn more about radiocarbon dating. Radiocarbon dating uses carbon isotopes A special kind of radiocarbon dating: Bomb radiocarbon dating What is an isotope?
To understand radiocarbon dating, you first have to understand the word Although an element’s number of protons cannot change, the number of neutrons can vary slightly from each atom.
Organisms at the base of the food chain that photosynthesize – for example, plants and algae – use the carbon in Earth’s atmosphere.
They have the same ratio of carbon-14 to carbon-12 as the atmosphere, and this same ratio is then carried up the food chain all the way to apex predators, like sharks.
The following table shows all the Qumran-related samples that were tested by Zurich (Z), Tucson (T) and Libby (L).
The column headed "14C Age" provides a raw age before 1950 for each sample tested.
This calibrated range of dates is represented in the last column, given with a 2-sigma error rating, which means at 95% confidence.
With the exception of the first text from Wadi-ed-Daliyeh, the texts in the table below are only those from the caves around Qumran.
Carbon-dating Carbon dating, like other radiometric dating methods, requires certain assumptions that cannot be scientifically proved.
Samples for dating need to be converted into a form suitable for measuring the content; this can mean conversion to gaseous, liquid, or solid form, depending on the measurement technique to be used.
Before this can be done, however, the sample must be treated to remove any contamination and any unwanted constituents.
This represents the ideal date for the amount of 14C measured for the sample.
However, as the quantity of 14 absorbed by all life fluctuates from year to year, the figure must be calibrated based on known fluctuation.