When is carbon dating used
The ratio of normal carbon (carbon-12) to carbon-14 in the air and in all living things at any given time is nearly constant.Maybe one in a trillion carbon atoms are carbon-14.
The second test (#21) yielded a result (50 BCE-130 CE) that was deemed more satisfactory.Both Carbon-12 and Carbon-13 are stable, but Carbon-14 decays by very weak beta decay to nitrogen-14 with a half-life of approximately 5,730 years.After the organism dies it stops taking in new carbon.In order to date the artifact, the amount of Carbon-14 is compared to the amount of Carbon-12 (the stable form of carbon) to determine how much radiocarbon has decayed.The ratio of carbon-12 to carbon-14 is the same in all living things.Among these were samples from other sites around the Dead Sea, which contained date indications within the text to supply a control for the carbon dating results.
The following table shows all the Qumran-related samples that were tested by Zurich (Z), Tucson (T) and Libby (L).
The column headed "14C Age" provides a raw age before 1950 for each sample tested.
This represents the ideal date for the amount of 14C measured for the sample.
As you learned in the previous page, carbon dating uses the half-life of Carbon-14 to find the approximate age of certain objects that are 40,000 years old or younger.
In the following section we are going to go more in-depth about carbon dating in order to help you get a better understanding of how it works.
Radiocarbon dating is a method of estimating the age of organic material.