Proof against carbon dating

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"Our work," he added, "should prompt a round of revisions and rethinking for the timeline of the archaeology and early history of the southern Levant through the early Biblical period." More information: Sturt W.

Manning et al, Fluctuating radiocarbon offsets observed in the southern Levant and implications for archaeological chronology debates, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (2018).

The possible reason for this, the team believes, could be due to climatic conditions in our distant past.

This is because pre-modern carbon 14 chronologies rely on standardised northern and southern hemisphere calibration curves to determine specific dates and are based on the assumption that carbon 14 levels are similar and stable across both hemispheres.

Radiocarbon dating is a key tool archaeologists use to determine the age of plants and objects made with organic material.

But new research shows that commonly accepted radiocarbon dating standards can miss the mark -- calling into question historical timelines.

Though one of the most essential tools for determining an ancient object’s age, carbon dating might not be as accurate as we once thought.These standard calibration curves assume that at any given time radiocarbon levels are similar and stable everywhere across each hemisphere. "We went looking to test the assumption behind the whole field of radiocarbon dating," Manning said."We know from atmospheric measurements over the last 50 years that radiocarbon levels vary through the year, and we also know that plants typically grow at different times in different parts of the Northern Hemisphere.So we wondered whether the radiocarbon levels relevant to dating organic material might also vary for different areas and whether this might affect archaeological dating." The authors measured a series of carbon-14 ages in southern Jordan tree rings, with established calendar dates between 16 A. They found that contemporary plant material growing in the southern Levant shows an average offset in radiocarbon age of about 19 years compared the current Northern Hemisphere standard calibration curve.Manning noted that "scholars working on the early Iron Age and Biblical chronology in Jordan and Israel are doing sophisticated projects with radiocarbon age analysis, which argue for very precise findings. But our work indicates that it's arguable their fundamental basis is faulty -- they are using a calibration curve that is not accurate for this region." Applying their results to previously published chronologies, the researchers show how even the relatively small offsets they observe can shift calendar dates by enough to alter ongoing archaeological, historical and paleoclimate debates.

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