Radiocarbon dating can still be considered a reliable method for determine the age of artefacts and materials, according to a study published this week.Recently, it was suggested that the dates offered by radiocarbon dating are increasingly being distorted by external factors.
When testing an object using radiocarbon dating, several factors have to be considered: First, carbon dating only works on matter that was once alive, and it only determines the approximate date of death for that sample.
We know that it is older than Christendom, but whether by a couple of years or a couple of centuries, or even by more than a millenium, we can do no more than guess." [Rasmus Nyerup, (Danish antiquarian), 1802 (in Trigger, 19)].
The person who wrote these words lived in the 1800s, many years before archaeologists could accurately date materials from archaeological sites using scientific methods.
Although carbon 14 atoms are constantly decaying, they are replaced by new carbon 14 atoms at a constant rate.
As soon as an organism dies, the carbon 14 atoms stop being replaced.