Radiocarbon dating is accurate for dates ranging

But the absolute date after calibration depends on which calibration formula is used. This uncertainty ranges from 20 years (for high-precision dating) through intermediate values of 50–100 years, and in some cases up to 100–150 years. For interpreting the results, different statistical models are used by different researchers.

The results, depending on the calibration, can be quite different. Naturally, different statistical models for interpretation of the same data will produce different results. After processing the data with all these scientific tools, most archaeologists “improve” the given dates in accordance with broader archaeological and historical considerations.

Radiocarbon decays slowly in a living organism, and the amount lost is continually replenished as long as the organism takes in air or food.

Once the organism dies, however, it ceases to absorb carbon-14, so that the amount of the radiocarbon in its tissues steadily decreases.

Carbon-14 has a half-life of 5,730 ± 40 years—, half the amount of the radioisotope present at any given time will undergo spontaneous disintegration during the succeeding 5,730 years.

Because carbon-14 decays at this constant rate, an estimate of the date at which an organism died can be made by measuring the amount of its residual radiocarbon.For all these reasons, contrasting dates have been reached in the ongoing chronological debate concerning the Iron Age.A decisive solution is far from being accomplished.Carbon-14 is continually formed in nature by the interaction of neutrons with nitrogen-14 in the Earth’s atmosphere; the neutrons required for this reaction are produced by cosmic rays interacting with the atmosphere.Radiocarbon present in molecules of atmospheric carbon dioxide enters the biological carbon cycle: it is absorbed from the air by green plants and then passed on to animals through the food chain.Singer-Avitz claims the material evidence of archaeological stratigraphy, including pottery finds, should not take second place. A useful tool but only one and not the only when it comes to determining Bible chronology. According to the low chronology, the transition to Iron Age IIa occurred around 920–900 B. However, the differences in data between the various schools are not dramatically far apart. In an attempt to solve this chronological problem and to achieve a more accurate date for the transition period, many scholars have resorted to carbon-14 (or radiocarbon) analysis, which can be performed on any organic substance, like wood or grain.The date of the transition from the archaeological period known as Iron Age I to Iron Age IIa is a particularly hotly disputed topic, especially because the date of the transition is crucial for elucidating the history and material culture of the reigns of David and Solomon. It is generally recognized that David conquered Jerusalem in about 1000 B. Radio-carbon dating is regarded by many scholars as accurate, precise and scientific, in contrast to the old cultural-historical methods of dating archaeological strata, which the devotees of radiocarbon regard as inaccurate and intuitive.Since these “long-term” samples may introduce the “old wood” effect, any calculation of precise absolute dates based on “long-term” samples is unreliable and may easily lead to errors of up to several decades or even more.For this reason, researchers prefer to use “short-life” samples, such as seeds, grain or olive pits. In many studies, particular radio-carbon dates are not considered valid because they do not match the majority of dated samples from the site in question.According to the so-called high chronology, the transition occurred around 1000 or 980 B. The hope of many scholars who feel that this science-based radiocarbon research will bring the debate to its longed-for solution is, in my view, difficult to adopt.The question I would like to raise is whether radiocarbon dating is really more precise, objective and reliable than the traditional way of dating when applied to the problem of the date of the transition from Iron I to Iron IIa.


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