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Problems with Radiometric and Carbon-14 Dating
Helping fight evolution
Examples of False Isochrons
Carbon-14 Dating Methods
C14 Uniformity
Can we prove that Carbon dates are accurate
The importance of blind tests
C-14 dating problems
Carbon Dating Tutankhamen
Appeal to Test All Samples
Notes & References
Offline: More on C14 Accuracy
More on Tree Rings

Carbon-14 Dating Methods

Are the findings of evolution research and its chronology any better than those of the chronology of ancient Egypt and its neighbors?

Radiocarbon dating is still a young science and even though there has been done a lot of research we must understand that each individual tends to accept those data which fit his expectations. What I am attempting to do now is point out some areas of cautions or possible pitfalls in relying too heavily on such dating methods.

We all realize that parent radioactive material is transformed into stable daughter products, i.e.

C-14 ---> C-13 and/or C-12 [10]

To illustrate: If we have 1 gram of C-14 decaying at a steady, previously determined rate, after about 5730 years there is according to its half-life only ½ gram of this C-14 left.[12]

Radiometric dating and real time may be assumed to be equivalent only if the following criteria are met:

For C-14 dating the conditions are:

  1. The material to be dated must be organic
  2. The organism to be tested must have gotten its C-14 from the atmosphere
  3. The sample has remained chemically and physically a closed system since its
  4. That we know what the atmospheric concentration of C-14 was when the
    organism lived.

It is estimated that cosmic radiation striking the upper atmosphere converts about 21 pounds of nitrogen each year into C-14. That produces about a one to one trillion ratio of C-14 to C-12. Most of this C-14 combines quickly with oxygen to form radioactive CO2, which then spreads throughout the atmosphere. I have not seen any studies showing how long this spreading is supposed to take on average and how thoroughly it is taking place. Is there more along the jet streams and less in the polar regions? C-14 then moves up the food chains to enter organic organisms in about the same ratio C-14 has to C-12 in the atmosphere. That is when the C-14 clock begins to tick.

The key question to ask then is: "Has the ratio of C-14 to C-12 ever changed from what it is today, and if so, when and by how much?" If a change or changes took place a carbon year may not necessarily equal a calendar year.

The earlier C-14 measurements were done by counting Yosemite rock slopethe rare disintegrations of C-14 atoms, which can sometimes be confused with other disintegrations in the older equipment. The new atomic accelerator technique has consistently detected the least small amounts of C-14 in every organic specimen - even in materials claimed to be millions of years old, like coal. If specimen were really millions of years old, virtually no C-14 would remain in them.

Some time ago eleven human skeletons, remains of the earliest humans in the western hemisphere, were dated by this new `accelerator mass spectrometer' technique to about 5000 radiocarbon years or less. [50]

My prediction is that if more evolutionary ancestors of man are tested and are also found to contain C-14, a major scientific revolution will occur, and thousands of textbooks will become obsolete. On the same grounds, human and dinosaur bones which have retained enough carbon to be tested by this precise method will be shown to be relatively young provided they are done in blind tests. That means samples used are not identified by where they came from.

Willard Liddy's critical assumption was that the earth was so old that a balance between formation and decay must exist. He wrote: "If the cosmic radiation has remained at its present intensity for 20,000 or 30,000 years, and if the carbon reservoir has not changed appreciably in this time, then there exists at the present time a complete balance between the rate of disintegration of radiocarbon atoms and the rate of assimilation of new radiocarbon atoms for all material in the life-cycle." [60]

More recently others have tried to duplicate Libby's measurements with more modern equipment and much greater accuracy. They concluded that the out-of-balance condition is real and even worse than Libby believed. Radiocarbon is forming 28% - 37% faster than it is decaying.

C14 Uniformity

As we can see to equate a C-14 year with a calendar year depends on the uniformity of C-14 in the atmosphere for many thousands of years into the past. Measurements were done on organic sedimentary layers worldwide showing that radiocarbon ages do not increase at a steady rate as one goes down layer by layer but, instead, they increase at an accelerated rate. That means that the concentration of C-14 decreased rapidly with depth. This shows that the atmospheric concentration of C-14 was not stable in the past and such dating methods may not be as reliable as we first thought.

Are there things that can't be carbon dated?

The method doesn't work on things that didn't get their carbon from the air. This leaves out aquatic creatures since their carbon might originate from dissolved carbonate rocks limestone. This in turn causes problems in dating animals that eat sea food.

We can't date things that are too old. After about 10 half lifes, there is very little C-14 left to measure. We can't date oil paints because they utilize old petroleum. We can't date fossils because they contain often preservatives. Others argue we can't date them because they are too old but it has been done anyway as we showed above.

Can we prove that Carbon dates are accurate?

There are usually two ways cited to do this:

  1. We can date things for which historians know "the right answer."
  2. We can date things that have been dated by some other method.

As to the first point, investigators used specimen from the Dead Sea scrolls, the Minoan ruins, and acacia wood from the tomb of pharaoh Zoser. Organic material from the tomb of king Tut was also used. But we presented evidence that the 18th dynasty has been misdated by some 600 years and therefore any carbon dates based on 18th dynasty samples would be proportionally erroneous. It appears that only the Dead Sea scrolls may be of some help for C-14 dating since the chronologies of the other two are by no means certain. But even in the case of the Dead Sea scrolls there may be a range of dates to be considered.

Other problems with geological clocks

Cosmic rays

It appears that cosmic ray penetration into our atmosphere depends upon the strength of the earth's magnetic field. The rock record indicates that the magnetic field has varied in both strength and direction over time. This has serious implications on C14-C12 chemistry in the upper atmosphere.

Lava flows

Students studying the relationship of lava flows have discovered that certain lava flows on the island of Hawaii are very similar to each other and related to each other. That indicates that they were expelled within a 3 to 6 month time frame to each other. The reason for that short time frame is suggested by the fact that in the process of lava extrusion, the magma chamber becomes depleted in various elements. This, in turn, causes changes in the makeup of lava flows over time. Therefore, when very similar lava compositions are found, this suggests very short periods between extrusions. Radiometric dates show millions of years between these lava flows. Therefore the results of chemical composition and radiometric dates do not match. This is not understandable unless the ages are not correct.

The importance of blind tests

A blind test requires that the person making the measurements does not know (or is "blind" to) which of several specimens is the one of interest. For example, to measure a rock's age by some radiometric method, similar rocks - but of different ages - must accompany the rock. Only after measurements are announced, can the technicians making the measurements be told the history of any specimen. To allow persons with vested interests in the outcome of the measurement - persons who know which sample they hope will produce a given measurement - to take the measurement, or in any way influence those who do, opens the experimental procedure to subtle biases. Blind tests insure objectivity.

A special type of blind test commonly used in medicine. is a "double-blind test." Neither the doctor nor patients know who has received the special treatment being tested. A random selection determines which test patients receive the special treatment and which receive a placebo - something obviously ineffective, such as a sugar pill.

Experienced researchers give little credence to any medicine or treatment that has not passed a well-designed and rigorously executed double-blind-test. If "medicines" and "health foods" which have not demonstrated any significant effectiveness in double-blind-tests were removed from the market, consumers would save billions of dollars each year. In the field of education, those proposals for enhancing learning that have not been subjected to blind tests have usually been shown to be ineffective or so marginal that the effectiveness cannot be measured. Astrological forecasts that have undergone blind tests have also been shown to be worthless.

The shroud of Turin, claimed to be the burial cloth of Christ, was supposedly dated by a blind test. What actually happened was, the control specimens were so dissimilar that the technicians at the three laboratories making the measurements could tell which specimen was from the Shroud. [Personal communication with one scientist who participated in the measurement.] The test would have been blind if the specimens had been reduced to carbon powder before they were given to the testing laboratories.

Radiometric dates that do not fit a desired theory are often thrown out by alleging contamination. Few hear about such tests. If those who are unhappy with the results of a blind radiometric dating have not previously identified the contamination, their charges should carry little weight. If contamination is alleged before the test, the test may not be needed. Therefore, careful researchers should first objectively evaluate the possibility of contamination.

Humans are naturally biased. We tend to see what we want to see and explain away unwanted data. This applies especially to those proposing theories. Scientists and historians are not immune to these shortcomings.

C-14 dating problems

Dr. Libby once expressed his shock when he found that radio carbon dates for human artifacts extended back only 5000 years and older dates were found to be unreliable.[110]

By this time tens of thousands of C-14 dates have been published from tests performed by various laboratories around the world. In the annual volumes in which the dates are published, concerns have been expressed about many relatively young dates that violate established geological age notions. One example given was Ice-Age materials that were dated by C-14 to fall within the Christian era [120] In his book C.W. Ceram notes a classic case of difficulties that befall C-14 dating. Bones 30,000 years old were found lying above wood dated at 16,000 years. [180]

Archaeology and C-14 dating:

Basically, it is surprising that all organically derived material on earth can be dated by the C-14 method even though it shouldn't be. If some material is really the many millions of years old, no C-14 should remain in it. This, scientists find now, is not the case.

It is already known that samples from certain periods thought to be fixed on the BC time scale are expected to have measurements falling in that range. When samples are measured and dates fall outside this range, unless it is published how often this happens, and the good plus the bad dates [results] are published, under strict `blind' conditions, we may not have conclusive data.

It may be of interest for the reader to learn what already has been done in the past with regard to obtaining C-14 dates for Egyptian artifacts. Here is that information.

Velikovski on Radio Carbon Dating Tutankhamen

"To check on the method before applying it on various historical and paleontological material, Libby chose material of Egyptian archaeology, under the assumption that no other historical material from over 2,000 years ago is so secure as to its absolute dating. When objects of the Old Kingdom and Middle Kingdom of Egypt yielded carbon dates that appeared roughly comparable with the historical dates, Libby made his method known.

From some correspondence that originated at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, I have concluded that when Libby first asked for specimens, he received not only those dating from the Old and Middle Kingdoms, but also from the New Kingdom-but nothing ever was published of those early tries on New Kingdom specimens. A similar situation concerns more recently tested short-living organic material from the tomb of Tutankhamen.

After many efforts (from 1952 to 1963) to have the New Kingdom of Egypt tested in a systematic way I succeeded in having three little pieces of wood from the tomb of Tutankhamen handed over by the Laboratory Director of the Cairo Museum to Mrs. Ilse Fuhr of Munich, who was directed by me to send them to Dr. Elizabeth Ralph of the University of Pennsylvania Laboratory. Two of the pieces were from the comparatively short-lived thorn plant, Spina christi, and one from the long-living Cedar of Lebanon. The three small pieces were processed together, since a test requires ca. 30 grams (1 ounce) of material. The result was -1120 ± 52 (or following Libby's half life of C14, -1030 ± 50). Now the accepted chronology has Tutankhamen dying in -1350; my reconstruction has him entombed in ca. -830. According to Dr. Iskander Hanna of the Cairo Museum, the wood was from 30 to 50 years dried before being used for funerary equipment. The Lebanon Cedar would not have been cut as sapling-the tree reaches thousands of years of age. The sample could have been from inner rings of a trunk. Dr. E. Ralph confirmed to me on March 5, 1964, that tree rings, when carbon dated, show the date of their formation, not of the year the tree was felled. I wrote to her on March 2, 1964, suggesting that if short-living material (like seeds, papyrus, linen or cotton) should be subjected to tests from the tomb of Tutankhamen, most probably the result will show " ca. -840." [300]

In spring, 1971, or seven years later, the British Museum processed palm kernels and mat reed from the tomb of Tutankhamen. The result, according to Dr. Edwards, Curator of the Egyptian Department of the British Museum, was -899 and -846 respectively.[310] These results were never published.

Appeal to Test All Samples

These cases make me appeal that all tests, irrespective of how much the results disagree with the accepted chronological data, should be made public. I believe also that the curiosity of the British Museum Laboratory officials should have induced them to ask for additional material from the Tutankhamen tomb instead of discontinuing the quest on the assumption that tested material was contaminated. The tomb of Tutankhamen had not been opened since soon after the entombment. It is dry, water did not percolate through its roof or walls. Another way of dulling the sharp disagreements between the accepted chronology and the results of the tests is described by my librarian assistant, Israel Isaacson.[320] In the case described nothing was purposely hidden but two different approaches were applied.

In one and the same year the University of Pennsylvania Laboratory tested wood from a royal tomb in Gordion, capital of the short-lived Phrygian Kingdom in Asia Minor, and from the palace of Nestor in Pylos, in S.W. Greece. In Gordion the result was -1100; in Pylos -1200. However, according to the accepted chronology, the difference should have been nearly 500 years - [250] the date should have been closer to -700. Dr. Ralph came up with the solution for Gordion. The beams from the tomb were squared and the inner rings could easily be four to five hundred years old when the tree was felled. But in Pylos, the description of the tested wood indicates that these were also squared beams - yet the corrective was not applied - this "because -1200 was the anticipated figure.

However, as I try to show in detail in the planned `The Dark Age of Greece', a separate volume of `Ages in Chaos' series, there were never five centuries of Dark Age between the Mycenaean Age and the historical (Ionic) Age of Greece. The Pylos beams are -800, the Gordion beams date from -700, Now the question arises, how can the radiocarbon method be used for deciding between the conventional and the revised chronologies? Many a reader of Volume I of `Ages in Chaos', and a few readers to whom I made available the sequel volumes in typescript would agree that the reconstruction is built with such profusion of contemporaneities and linked episodes that the credence given to the conventional history to serve as a control over carbon datings should be now transferred to the reconstruction and let it control, not be controlled by, carbon tests. Yet, for less convinced audiences, the method can serve in two manners. For the period before -500, only comparative tests can serve profitably for the solution of the chronological problems: King Saul was a contemporary of kings Kamose and Amose - and lived not 540 years after them; similarly. King Solomon was a contemporary of Queen Hatshepsut, and Thutmose III of Rehoboam of Judea and Jeroboam of the Ten Tribes; and Amenhotep II of King Asa; Amenhotep III of Omri and Ahab; Akhnaton also of Ahab of Samaria and Jehoshaphat of Jerusalem, and of Shalmaneser III of Assyria. Therefore if we can compare material from two areas contemporaneous in my reconstruction but separated by 540 years in the conventionally written history, we may receive the carbon answer as to which of the two time tables is correct and which is wrong. The ivory of the Shalmaneser III fort near Nimrud and the ivory of Tutankhamen's tomb must yield very close dates.

For the period separated by 200 years from the last cosmic upheaval involving our planet (-687), say for after -500, we may apply the tests without any need to compare contemporaneous samples. Thus the 20th and 21st Dynasties, which in conventional histories occupy the 12th to the middle of the 10th century but in my reconstruction from -400 to -340 (20th) and ca. -450 to -280 (21st), are perfect choices for carbon tests.

Now we see that not only were the warning signals that Libby offered with his method disregarded, but also an unearned reliance on the accepted version of ancient history has caused much stumbling in the dark, more and more tests of diminished value, and a maze of findings, with many undisclosed results of tests, wrong deductions and much exasperation that mark the first 20 years of application of Libby's most imaginative method."

Notes & References

[10] Radioactive decay, with respect to C14 deacy, is here briefly described as C14 having too many neutrons in its nucleus, which makes it unstable. Over time it seeks to become stable by ejecting moving particles, primarily neutrons and protons [See here], which are counted by instruments like Geiger counters. The end result will be a stable atom of a different chemical element which is not anymore `carbon' because the atom has now a different number of protons and electrons. -- This type of `decay' is not like fruit decays, becoming a lesser quality item, rather it produces another element of just as valuable a particle as other elements.
Important: Geologist cannot use just any old rock for dating. The rocks to use must have certain isotopes (like: uranim-238, uranium-235, potassium-40, rubidium-87, and samarium-147. [See also this offline article on false isochrons.] These parent radioisotopes change into daughter: lead-206, lead-207, argon-40, strontium-87, and neodymium-143 isotopes, respectively. - - This way geologists refer to uranium-lead (2 versions), potassium-argon, rubidium-strontium, or samarium-neodymium dates for rocks.
It is also said that snail shells help investigators to establish an areas Strontium baseline. [Archaeology, May/June 2007, p.52.]
Please notice that the carbon-14 (or radiocarbon) method is not used to date rocks because most rocks do not contain carbon. Most often a rock body (magma) like granit (formed by cooling underground) and basalts (formed by cooling on the surface) has isotopes present only in very minute amounts. - - Next they must measure the amount of parent and daughter isotopes in a sample of a rock unit. Specially equipped labs can do this with accuracy and precision. That is why few people quarrel with the resulting chemical test results. It is rather the interpretation of these chemical analysis that raise potential problems. To understand how geologists "read" the age of a rock from these chemical analysis, let us use the analogy of an hourglass "clock".

They may conclude that:

Unstable uranium (U, parent) eventually change into stable atoms like Lead (Pb, daughter). When scientists date rocks, they do not actually observe the atoms changing. They measure the products of the change, which they assume took place in the past. But what if they are wrong about their assumptions?

Assumption 1: The original number of unstable atoms can be known. Scientists assume how many unstable (parent) atoms existed at the beginning based on how many parent and daughter atomes are left today.
Assumption 2: The rate of change was constant. Scientists assume that radioactive atoms have changed at the same rate throughout time, ignoring the impact of Creation or changes during Noah's Flood.
Assumption 3: The daughter atoms were all produced by radioactive decay. Scientists assume that no outside forces, such as flowing groundwater, contaminated the sample.
See here: Carl David Anderson discovered in 1932 a particle, having the positive charge of the proton, and the mass of the electron. The particle, named the positron, is therefore a "sister-particle" of the electron: both particles have equal masses and equally opposed electric charges which can neutralize each other. - Anderson's experiments showed also, that when a gamma-ray energy amount, or quantum, of no less than 1.02 million electron volts (1.02 MeV) is absorbed in any point of space, a free electron and a free positron emerge out of this point. - Inversely, when a free electron meets a free positron, the two nuclear particles may disappear in a point of space, out of which will then emerge two (at least) gamma-ray quanta, of combined energy equal to 1.02 MeV.

[12] See BAR, May 1997, p. 17.

[50] R.E.Taylor, `Major Revisions in the Pleistocene Age Assignments for the North American Human Skeletons by C-14 Accelerator Mass Spectrometry', American Antiquity, Vol. 50, No.1, 1985, pp. 136-140.

[60] W.F.Libby, `Radiocarbon Dating', (Chicago, 1952), pp. 4-9.

[110] CRSQ, 1972, 9:3, p. 157.

[120] CRSQ, 1969, p. 114.

[180] C.W. Ceram, `Hands on the Past', 1971, p. 257-259.

[250] 1200 B.C. for Pylos of the end of Mycenaean age was well acceptable, but -1100 for Gordion was not.

[300] The Correspondence on Egyptian Carbon Dates:
Many Conventional Scholars argue that C-14 dates for Egypt yield no useful dates. In our opinion that may be partly due also to their false chronology. So can we read statements like these: "In his introduction the author points out the chronological usefulness of synchronisms with other states, but also that the C-14 analysis and dendrochronology yield, for Egypt, too inaccurate results." `Chronologie des ägyptischen Neuen Reiches', Hildesheim, Gerstenberg Verlag, 1994 = Hildesheimer Ägyptologische Beiträge, 39.]
For a good discussion on precautions in accepting results of C-14 and dendrochronology read David Rohl, "Pharaohs and Kings", (New York, 1995), Appendix C]
"March 2, 1964
Dear Dr. Ralph:

' words to express to you my thanks; not to be effusive, I shall say only that the test now performed and reported by you is to me the first achievement in many efforts that span more than a decade, the goal of which was to have the New and Late Kingdoms of Egypt checked by RC. The answer I usually received was an assertion that the error-margin of the method exceeds by far any uncertainty in historical datings and that therefore the tests are not needed for the period I was concerned with. Now it is clear that the conventional dates for this period, too, are by centuries out of conformity with carbon dates whereas the uncertainty of the method is counted only in decades.
The date you have obtained for the wood from the tomb of Tutenkhamen (either 1030 or 1120, or a figure in between) lies half-way between that of the conventional chronology (-1343) and its revision (ca. -840) as offered in Ages in Chaos. But you have not incalculated the age of lumber at the time it was used.
Dr. Iskander Hanna said to Mrs. Fuhr that he thought the lumber's age could be 30 years.
Would you kindly tell me:
1) whether the specimens of the two different trees (Cedrus Libani and Zizyphus spina Christi) were tested separately or summarily, and if separately, what was the carbon age of each of the fragments,
2) whether generally the wood from the inner and the outer rings and from the trunk and the branches show the same carbon age and if not, whether the differences reflect the age of formation (rings)'?
Very cordially, Immanuel Velikovsky"
"April 6, 1964
Dear Dr. Ralph:

Your kind letter of March 5 made it clear to me that we need to subtract from the date 1030 + 50 B.C., or resp. 1120 + 52 B.C., not only the years that have passed from the day the trees were cut to the day they were used for the tomb but, what is even more significant, also the years from the formation of the rings in the examined samples till the cutting of the trees. In the case of Lebanese cedar, famous for its longevity, no saplings would have been cut for export.
More tests on suitable objects from the New Kingdom are needed, preferably hide, mummy, grain, papyrus, or linen. How good it would be if the Cairo Museum would agree to sacrifice a little piece of the mummy of Ramses III: it is a dream, but it could solve fundamental questions in Egyptian chronology . . .

A correspondent from overseas drew my attention to a paper by II. S. Smith in Antiquity (vol. 38, March 1964, pp. 32-37) in which the author-Egyptologist underlines the agreement between the radiocarbon and the "historical" dates back to 2000 B.C. . and the "generally satisfactory sequence of dates before that. . ," It was printed about the time you let me have the results of Tutenkhamon's test.

An earlier issue (vol. 37, 1963, pp. 213-219), Antiquity, reprinted Libby's article in Science (April 19, 1963). Libby claimed agreement in historical and carbon dates for the New and Late Kingdoms, a period of over twelve hundred years, on the basis of one single test, that of Seti's wood; you have, however, in your report counted with the possibility that the wood had been re-used by Seti; even so, there was some disagreement between the carbon and the accepted dates; to it comes also the element of incertitude connected with the age of the tree-rings.
Libby counted with the possibility that "the whole historical Egyptian chronology is interlocking and subject to possible systematic errors."

The statement by Smith creates the impression that the radiocarbon analysis decided for the accepted dates, especially for the period under discussion in my work of reconstruction ("Ages in Chaos"), namely (in conventional chronology) from 1580 (or even 1680) to 330 before the present era, and that, therefore, my work is proven wrong. Under those circumstances I, of course, am desirous to see the result of the test on Tutenkhamon's wood made known.

May I inquire for when is the publication of the result planned? Would you possibly consider communicating it to Science before it is printed in the American Journal of Science (Radiocarbon)."
Very cordially, Immanuel Velikovsky"

Jan Samner was at one time a researcher for Velikovsky, and like Eddie Schorr amassed a lot of evidence against the myth of the Greek Dark Ages. He has recently made a huge contribution to the revisionist's cause by helping to make much of Velikovsky's unpublished work available in 1999 via the Internet. In a note near the end of Velikovsky's paper on applying radiocarbon dating, he has drawn to our attention to the publication, in a Canadian Medical Journal, of the first known independent radiocarbon dating of the linen wrapping of a mummy firmly dated to the reign of Setnakht. The date obtained was 345BCE +/- 75yr. [Dr J Iles, letter, Canadian Medical Association Journal. March 1980.]

It is much beyond this file to give an in depth account of C-14 dating. For further informations

Plus numerous other sites

[310 Ibid., Ref. 300

[320] Carbon 14 Dates and Velikovsky's Revision of Ancient History:
Samples from Pylos and Gordion" in Pensée, Immanuel Velikovsky Reconsidered IV (Spring-Summer 1973), pp. 26-32.

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