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Archaeological bones are usually dated by radiocarbon measurement of extracted collagen.However, low collagen content, contamination from the burial environment, or museum conservation work, such as addition of glues, preservatives, and fumigants to “protect” archaeological materials, have previously led to inaccurate dates.About one carbon nucleus in a trillion contains two extra neutrons, giving a mass of 14.This carbon-14 is radioactive and decays with a half-life of 5730 years.While low collagen content is a condition we cannot overcome, we can use several chemical and elemental indicators in order to assess collagen quality.Among these, the C/N atomic ratio is considered a good parameter for detecting low-quality collagen and possibly contaminated samples.For historical reasons, uncalibrated radiocarbon measurements are often referred to a half-life of 5568 years.However, this inconsistency is corrected during calibration [the reason for using the (Willard F.) Libby half-life of 5568 years instead of the correct one of 5730 years has to do with the finding in about 1962 that the true half-life was 573030 years.
This article is reproduced from Nuclear News, June 19998, and is based on a paper presented at the ANS Winter Meeting, held November 16-20, 1997, in Albuquerquete N. AMS has become an accurate and precise method for dating many types of materials - including such interesting items as the Shroud of Turin and the Dead Sea Scrolls, which will be discussed laterwhere only a small sample can be spared.
For example: “Nobody cites the many hundreds of C Carbon-14 is radioactive—therefore, it decays over time.
It can be used as a dating tool because creatures and plants accumulate it during their lifetimes, and cease doing so when they die. If four essential facts are known, an age can be calculated with precision.
Radiocarbon dating of bone collagen routinely focuses on the extraction of bulk proteins that are then purified before radiocarbon measurement.
However, the extracted bulk gelatin can be heterogeneous and include, or be cross-linked to, potential contaminants from the depositional environment, such as humic and fulvic acids, rootlets, cellulose, sediments, and other plant and animal remains including amino acids from bacteria and microorganisms (1, 2).
This method is applied to two important sites in Russia and allows us to report the earliest direct ages for the presence of anatomically modern humans on the Russian Plain.