Uncertainty with carbon 14 dating examples of great headlines for dating sites

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Dinegar, who heads the STURP C-14 group which claimed to have made a detailed study of the application of C-14 to the Shroud, stated that "sample preparation procedures can insure no error in date due to foreign contamination accreted over the centuries" (1982:6; emphasis added).All of the above statements quoted from the literature reveal an unwarranted trust in radiocarbon measurement to produce an exact calendar date for any good sample submitted.Reviewing recent Shroud literature of all persuasions, I find little awareness of the limitations of the C-14 method, an urge to "date first and ask questions later," and a general disregard for the close collaboration between field and laboratory personnel which is the ideal in archaeometric projects.Regarding the Shroud, consultations should take place among archeologists, historians, conservationists, cellulose chemists and of course radiocarbon scientists in order to formulate a specific C-14 sampling and dating procedure.However, I doubt that anyone with significant experience in the dating of excavated samples would dismiss for one moment the potential danger of contamination and other sources of error.

Much worse, the 1979 proposal involved a small sample of cloth removed from the Shroud in 1973 for study by Prof. Mc Crone and Sox had inspected the sample (apparently unstitched by Raes into two pieces) during a visit with Raes in 1976, and found that "the samples were kept in what looked like an old scrapbook for postage stamps" (Sox: 19).As I shall endeavor to demonstrate below, the radiocarbon measurement of the Shroud is a complex issue, and the inclusion of all relevant expertise is highly important.In May, 1985, I submitted such a proposal to Cardinal Ballestrero, Archbishop of Turin and official custodian of the relic, in the hope that the ecclesiastical authorities would consider appointing a scientific panel to plan and implement a C14 testing program.In the Shroud literature, a similar absolute belief in the method is found among most writers.Wilson, for example, states (194) that a dating accurate to a plus-minus of 100 years is possible thus "enabling the settling, once and for all, of the question of whether or not the Shroud is a 14th century forgery." Sox (192) follows Wilson in thinking that C-14 dating the Shroud could "remove it once and for all from the Middle Ages, or place it squarely there for all time." Some STURP scientists unfortunately display similar beliefs.

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