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Radiocarbon or C14 dating employs complex systems of measuring the unstable isotopes in once living matter.

The radiocarbon method measures the rate of decay in the C14 of organic matter therefore estimating how long ago death occurred.

Archaeologists can use this method to date bone, teeth, plants, seeds, burned food remains, coprolites, wood, and any artefact that contains organic materials such as an iron axe head (iron cannot be tested using C14) with a wooden handle or a bronze spear with a wooden shaft.

However, experimental evidence indicates that C14 decay is slowing down and that millennia ago it decayed much faster than is observed today.

Secondly, the theory behind C14 dating demands that there is the same rate of cosmic production of radioactive isotopes throughout time.

As with any radioactive particle it decays over time. Libby in 1948 at the University of Chicago, showed that C14, tested in his laboratory, decayed at the rate that, projected out, would cause half of its weight to be lost in 5568 years.

Hence, the term ‘half-life’ was given to radioactive substances.

The unreliability of carbon 14 date testing is a great concern to honest archaeologists.

They get particularly concerned when C14 testing shows obviously inaccurate results and they are left in uncertainty about the reliability of the dates that they have previously never questioned.

For radiocarbon dating to be reliable scientists need to make a number of vital assumptions.

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