Radiocarbon dating is based on the fact that carbon-14 (an isotope of the extremely common element carbon) decays into another carbon isotope, carbon-12, at an exact rate.
By measuring the ratio of carbon-14 to carbon-12, experts can determine the age of something that dates from ancient times.
Carbon dating the Dead Sea Scrolls refers to a series of radiocarbon dating tests performed on the Dead Sea Scrolls, first by the AMS (Accelerator Mass Spectrometry) lab of the Zurich Institute of Technology in 1991 and then by the AMS Facility at the University of Arizona in Tucson in 1994-95.
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.
Libby had first started using the dating method in 1946 and the early testing required relatively large samples, so testing on scrolls themselves only became feasible when methods used in the dating process were improved upon. Davies made a request to date a number of scrolls, which led to a series of tests carried out in Zurich on samples from fourteen scrolls.
Among these were samples from other sites around the Dead Sea, which contained date indications within the text to supply a control for the carbon dating results.
When a plant or animal dies, it stops taking in carbon.
Since the carbon-14 decays, comparing the current ratio to the predicted C ratio vs. To sum up these assumptions, if you know the initial conditions, the final conditions, and everything in between, you will get the right answer.For example, a steel spearhead cannot be carbon dated, so archaeologists might perform testing on the wooden shaft it was attached to.This provides good information, but it only indicates how long ago that piece of wood was cut from a living tree.Radiocarbon dating can’t tell the difference between wood that was cut and immediately used for the spear, and wood that was cut years before being re-used for that purpose.Nor can it tell if a much older spearhead was attached to a brand-new shaft.All plants take in carbon from carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. A carbon-14 atom is radioactive; it eventually loses an electron and a neutrino and changes to nitrogen-14.