Accuracy refers to how close the assessed age of a sample is to the true age.
Precision refers to the statistical uncertainty associated with an age estimate—the greater the precision, the less uncertainty there is in the assessed age.
According to the University of Arizona, the publishers of ).
The application of radiocarbon dating to determine the geochronology of archaeological sites is ubiquitous across the African continent.
Accelerator mass spectrometry has made radiocarbon dating the most precise method to determine the death of living organisms that occurred within the last 50,000 years.
C, is included in the calculation of the organic carbon isotopic fraction.
Every living organism is part of the carbon reservoir as it absorbs atmospheric carbon through respiration or metabolizes it after consuming other carbon-based life forms.
Living organisms uptake and metabolize all forms of carbon from Earth’s carbon reservoir, within which carbon cycles between the troposphere, atmosphere, hydrosphere, lithosphere, and biosphere.
The stable isotopes of The first application for measuring radiocarbon in the laboratory was developed by Willard Libby in 1949 using a screen-walled counter, which is similar to a modified Geiger counter, to detect emission of beta particles.
All archaeologists should be aware of the fact that they are dating organic samples, and it is the archaeological context of that sample that determines its relationship to the site’s age.
If the contextual association of the sample to the site is poor or if there are taphonomic effects that have compromised the sample’s integrity, the accuracy of the date relative to the archaeological occupation will be poor, even if the date is precise (e.g., ±10 years).
However, my own experience indicates that there is a lack of understanding of what, specifically, is being measured from samples; what is involved in the atmosphere-to-biosphere production, retention, and decay of radiocarbon; and what should and should not be dated from archaeological deposits using radiocarbon dating techniques.
Therefore, I will introduce the topic with a brief summary suitable for advanced students and archaeological professionals..
This review will begin generally to explain the process of radiocarbon production in the atmosphere, and how three isotopes of carbon become associated with all living organisms that eventually die and find their way into the archaeologist’s sample collection.