Radio carbon dating limitations
It is important that the radiocarbon scientists and archaeologists agree on the sampling strategy before starting the excavation so time, effort, and resources will not be wasted and meaningful result will be produced after the carbon dating process.
It must be stressed that archaeologists need to interact with radiocarbon laboratories first before excavation due to several factors.1.
Studying the material remains of past human life and activities may not seem important or exciting to the average Joe unlike the biological sciences.
But archaeology’s aim to understand mankind is a noble endeavor that goes beyond uncovering buried treasures, gathering information, and dating events.
Some samples, like wood, already ceased interacting with the biosphere and have an apparent age at death and linking them to the age of the deposits around the sample would not be wholly accurate.
There are also cases when the association between the sample and the deposit is not apparent or easily understood.
Before deciding on using carbon dating as an analytical method, an archaeologist must first make sure that the results of radiocarbon dating after calibration can provide the needed answers to the archaeological questions asked.
The implication of what is represented by the carbon 14 activity of a sample must be considered.
Over the years, archaeology has uncovered information about past cultures that would have been left unknown had it not been with the help of such technologies as radiocarbon dating, dendrochronology, archaeomagnetic dating, fluoride dating, luminescence dating, and obsidian hydration analysis, among others.
Sample type, size and packing Laboratories have limitations in terms of the samples they can process for radiocarbon dating. Laboratories must also be consulted as to the required amount of sample that they ideally like to process as well as their preference with certain samples for carbon dating.
Other labs accept waterlogged wood while others prefer them dry at submission.2.
Great care must be exercised when linking an event with the context and the context with the sample to be processed by radiocarbon dating.
An archaeologist must also make sure that only the useful series of samples are collected and processed for carbon dating and not every organic material found in the excavation site.