A christian response to radiometric dating

The archaeological evidence is often not mentioned.

a christian response to radiometric dating-43

Hopefully, as radiocarbon dating continues to develop, it will eventually be more useful in solving the problems of Iron Age chronology.

But at present the use of this method for elucidating the problems of this period, in which the differences between the theories are so small, investment of this huge effort (hundreds of samples must be tested) does not contribute to our understanding of the chronological problems any more than the traditional cultural-historical methods, based on pottery chronology, etc.

Therefore a complex procedure known as calibration has been developed, which converts radiocarbon test results to calendar years by relating these results to dendrochronologically dated tree-ring samples.

The calibration curve is revised periodically as more data are continuously accumulated.

Moreover, as so much emphasis is put on questions of different calibration methods and different statistical manipulations, sometimes the archaeological evidence is neglected and the data are not properly presented.

The first stage in every discussion should be the proper presentation of the main archaeological finds—that is, stratigraphy and pottery.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.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.This question is sharpened in light of the fact that the uncertainty in the usual radiocarbon readings (plus or minus 25 years or so) may be as large as the difference in dates in the debate. Measuring the remaining carbon-14 content in “long-term” organic samples, such as wood, will provide the date of growth of the tree, rather than the date of the archaeological stratum in which the sample was found.

Tags: , ,