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Since the calendar age of the tree rings is known, this then tells you the age of your sample.In practice this is complicated by two factors: These effects are most clearly seen by looking at a specific example.To give an example if a sample is found to have a radiocarbon concentration exactly half of that for material which was modern in 1950 the radiocarbon measurement would be reported as 5568 BP.For two important reasons, this does not mean that the sample comes from 3619 BC: Many types of tree reliably lay down one tree ring every year.
This is very useful as a record of the radiocarbon concentration in the past.
The first indicates the proportion of radiocarbon atoms in the sample as compared to samples modern in 1950.
The second is directly derived from this on the assumption that the half-life of radiocarbon is 5568 years and the amount of radiocarbon in the atmosphere has been constant.
The results of calibration are often given as an age range.
In this case, we might say that we could be 95% sure that the sample comes from between 1375 cal BC and 1129 cal BC.