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Unfortunately, we aren't able to reliably date artifacts beyond several thousand years.Scientists have tried to extend confidence in the carbon dating method further back in time by calibrating the method using tree ring dating.In a paper published to the , the team led by archaeologist Stuart Manning identified variations in the carbon 14 cycle at certain periods of time throwing off timelines by as much as 20 years.The possible reason for this, the team believes, could be due to climatic conditions in our distant past.And yet these studies […] may all be inaccurate since they are using the wrong radiocarbon information,” Manning said.At least to the uninitiated, carbon dating is generally assumed to be a sure-fire way to predict the age of any organism that once lived on our planet.
The result is that carbon dating is accurate for only a few thousand years. This fact is born out in how carbon dating results are used by scientists in the scientific literature.
They are then able to calibrate the carbon dating method to produce fairly accurate results.
Carbon dating is thus accurate within the timeframe set by other archaeological dating techniques.
It is imperative to remember that the material must have been alive at one point to absorb the carbon, meaning that carbon dating of rocks or other inorganic objects is nothing more than inaccurate guesswork.
All living things absorb both types of carbon; but once it dies, it will stop absorbing.
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"This attitude is clearly reflected in a regrettably common practice: when a radiocarbon date agrees with the expectations of the excavator it appears in the main text of the site report; if it is slightly discrepant it is relegated to a footnote; if it seriously conflicts it is left out altogether." (Peter James, et al. It is for specimens which only date back a few thousand years.