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Old wood problem radiocarbon dating

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The problems caused by the use of old shells to make beads and other artifacts are surmountable through careful sample selection, analysis of multiple 14C dates on a variety of materials, and proper calibration procedures.ABSTRACT: Shell middens, large heaps of refuse materials that are often interspersed with burials, hearths and other cultural features, provide important data regarding the lifestyles of past coastal and maritime dwellers.Protons and neutrons make up the center (nucleus) of the atom, and electrons form shells around the nucleus.The number of protons in the nucleus of an atom determines the element.

Operating singly or together, these processes can produce a gap between date and wood use that exceeds the uncertainty range of radiocarbon dates and thereby seriously overestimate the age of the site involved.Stratification is not always clear-cut in practice.In the case of dating megalithic tombs, indirect evidence for the age of the tomb must always be obtained, because stone (or the time of moving a stone) can not be dated.The old wood effect or old wood problem is a pitfall encountered in the archaeological technique of radiocarbon dating.A sample will provide misleading or confusing results if materials of different ages are deposited in the same context.Note that, contrary to a popular misconception, carbon dating is not used to date rocks at millions of years old.