The dates given for Rapa Nui attract particular debate as they have been used to establish the time of the migration to the island.With carbon dating the type of sample and the placement of it within the site are very important.
But radiocarbon dating tries its best; and can often serve as a base for additional scientific techniques which can clarify results further.
It is a vital part in the investigation and preservation of our past and a lovely bit of analysis to compliment digital records of monuments.
Some samples might be degraded or out of context within the site: meaning a spurious date might be assigned.
And samples must be collected carefully, as often they have been in stable environments prior to their unearthing by industrious archaeologists and may be easily degraded in the open air or attacked by moisture and sunlight once gathered.
These various chronologies and their inherent inconsistencies, known as ‘relative dates,’ are a constant series of hurdles in the quest of historians and archaeologists to record mankind’s existence on earth.
However, in the 1940s, the organization of time was transformed by the revelation of radiometric dating and the subsequent creation of a scientific chronology of humankind, known as ‘absolute dating’.
However, a number of things can easily go wrong during this stage of the process and the labs that calculate radiocarbon dates are subject to constant scrutiny to ensure that they are up to par; but even so, samples sent to different labs often produce slightly various results. These are established by a variety of elements, including but not limited to: the quality of the sample, the quality of the lab, and the age of the sample.
It is when a sample is measured that the real complications begin: as the process to assign a meaningful date to the scientific chronology is rather erudite. dates (raw dates that are calibrated to the same calendar system are written without capital letters as b.c./ a.d. Younger samples have a larger margin of error than older samples.
But what does it actually do and how much can it tell us?
Radiocarbon dating is a side benefit of a naturally occurring scientific process.
Chances are, right now, you have a Gregorian calendar stuck to your wall.