“If you’re trying to look at archaeological sites at the order of 30,000 or 40,000 years ago, the ages may shift by only a few hundred years but that may be significant in putting them before or after changes in climate,” he says.Take the extinction of Neanderthals, which occurred in western Europe less than 30,000 years ago.For help clarifying this question so that it can be reopened, visit the help center.
Various geologic, atmospheric and solar processes can influence atmospheric carbon-14 levels.
Since the 1960s, scientists have started accounting for the variations by calibrating the clock against the known ages of tree rings.
Archaeologists vehemently disagree over the effects changing climate and competition from recently arriving humans had on the Neanderthals' demise.
The more accurate carbon clock should yield better dates for any overlap of humans and Neanderthals, as well as for determining how climate changes influenced the extinction of Neanderthals.
A new study out of Cornell University calls into question the standards associated with the carbon dating method used to date archaeological remains in the region of Israel.
These findings lead to bigger questions about the radiocarbon dating process as a whole, which may have huge ramifications for how biblical events align with the timelines of the ancient world.
“If you have a better estimate of when the last Neanderthals lived to compare to climate records in Greenland or elsewhere, then you’ll have a better idea of whether the extinction was climate driven or competition with modern humans,” says Paula Reimer, a geochronologist at Queen’s University in Belfast, UK.
She will lead efforts to combine the Lake Suigetsu measurements with marine and cave records to come up with a new standard for carbon dating.
Radiometric dating, for instance, will say that deeper levels of sediment are older than shallower levels of sediment.