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Problems of radiocarbon dating

To check on the method before applying it on various historical and paleontological material, Libby chose material of Egyptian archaeology, under the assumption that no other historical material from over 2,000 years ago is so secure as to its absolute dating.

When objects of the Old Kingdom and Middle Kingdom of Egypt yielded carbon dates that appeared roughly comparable with the historical dates, Libby made his method known.

A similar criticism appeared in the article by astronomer Edmondson, who cited the Indiana University geologist, J. To the above-mentioned article by Longwell a Mexicologist also contributed.

Offering in 1952 his new radiocarbon method for calculating the age of organic material (the time interval since the plant or the animal died), W. Libby clearly saw the limitations of the method and the conditions under which his theoretical figures would be valid: A.There's a small amount of radioactive carbon-14 in all living organisms.When they die no new carbon-14 is taken in by the dead organism.However, three or four rings formed in one year is not uncommon, especially if the tree grows on a slope, with the ground several times in a year turning wet and dry because of rapid outflow of water (Glueck et al., Botanical Review, 7, 649-713; and 21, 245-365).And certainly the building of tree “ladders,” or carrying on the count from one tree to another may cause erroneous conclusions.We must also evaluate the basic reliance on Egyptian chronology that, as we shall see, needs to be discontinued.Speaking of my research as far as it affects the radiocarbon dating method, I would like to separate the finds concerning natural events (Worlds in Collision, Earth in Upheaval) from finds concerning the true chronology of Egypt and of the ancient World in general (Ages in Chaos).The radiocarbon dates diverge from the historical dates by several hundred years (often 500 to 700), and, interestingly, in the Egyptian samples more so than in samples from most other ancient civilizations.This led Libby to write in 1963: “ The data [in the Table] are separated into two groups Egyptian and non-Egyptian. The combined efforts of several researchers led them to believe that one of the conditions stipulated by Libby for a flawless functioning of his method was not historically sustained; it is claimed that the influx of cosmic rays varied with time.In centuries to come a body of a man or animal who lived and died in the 20th century would appear paradoxically of greater age since death than the body of a man or animal of the 19th century, and if the process of industrial use of fossil, therefore dead, carbon continues to increase, as it is expected will be the case, the paradox will continue into the forthcoming centuries.As years passed and more tests were made (soon by laboratories counted in scores), a rather consistent deviation between radiocarbon age and historical age started to receive the attention of researchers.

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