Ams radiocarbon dating of bones at lsce

Research has been ongoing since the 1960s to determine what the proportion of in the atmosphere has been over the past fifty thousand years.The resulting data, in the form of a calibration curve, is now used to convert a given measurement of radiocarbon in a sample into an estimate of the sample's calendar age.A recent study into prescreening techniques to identify bones suitable for radiocarbon dating from sites known for poor or variable preservation (Brock et al.2007, 2010a) found that the percent nitrogen (%N) content of whole bone powder was the most reliable indicator of collagen preservation.Desmond Clark (1979) wrote that were it not for radiocarbon dating, "we would still be foundering in a sea of imprecisions sometime bred of inspired guesswork but more often of imaginative speculation" (Clark, 1979:7).Writing of the European Upper Palaeolithic, Movius (1960) concluded that "time alone is the lens that can throw it into focus".

Radiocarbon dating has been one of the most significant discoveries in 20th century science.This method of prescreening is now regularly used at the Oxford Radiocarbon Accelerator Unit (ORAU).In the original study, linear regression analysis of data from 100 bones from 12 Holocene sites across southern England showed that when 0.76% N was chosen as a threshold, 84% of bones were successfully identified as containing sufficient (i.e."Everything which has come down to us from heathendom is wrapped in a thick fog; it belongs to a space of time we cannot measure.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 radiocarbon dating method is based on the fact that radiocarbon is constantly being created in the atmosphere by the interaction of cosmic rays with atmospheric nitrogen.

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