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Since trees can have a lifespan of hundreds of years, its date of death might not even be relatively close to the date the archaeologists are looking for.
Thorough research and cautiousness can eliminate accidental contamination and avoidable mistakes.
As the lecture detailed, it is only accurate from about 62,000 years ago to 1,200 A. There is a sizable amount of time before and after that period that cannot be investigated using this method.
Also, archaeologists cannot use their hands to touch the samples or smoke near them.
In fact, it has fluctuated a great deal over the years.
This variation is caused by both natural processes and human activity.
Since its conception by Willard Libby in 1949, it has been invaluable to the discipline.The answer to the problem of fluctuating amounts of this important isotope is calibration.While an uncalibrated reading may be off by a factor of 10%-20%, calibration severely reduces that value.In fact, many important archaeological artifacts have been dated using this method including some of the Dead Sea Scrolls and the Shroud of Turin.Though radiocarbon dating is startlingly accurate for the most part, it has a few sizable flaws.
Radiometric dating is self-checking, because the data (after certain preliminary calculations are made) are fitted to a straight line (an "isochron") by means of standard linear regression methods of statistics.