Send charcoal for carbon dating

Wood contains cellulose, lignin, and other compounds; of these, cellulose is the least likely to have exchanged carbon with the sample's environment, so it is common to reduce a wood sample to just the cellulose component before testing.However, this can reduce the volume of the sample down to 20% of the original size, so testing of the whole wood is often performed as well.Libby realized that the residual carbon 14 of some samples would be thus affected and suggested that some materials would be more accurate for dating than others.He predicted that charcoal would be the most effective, shell, the least.Samples for dating need to be converted into a form suitable for measuring the content; this can mean conversion to gaseous, liquid, or solid form, depending on the measurement technique to be used.

In the late 1950's, the issue of presample age was identified as a causal factor in the difficulties encountered in accurately cross-dating the Julian calendar with that of the Yucatan Maya of Lowland Mexico.Physical and chemical pretreatments vary depending on the type of material and the depositional environment from which it came.It is important to understand the nature of the material being dated as certain organic fractions are more appropriate than others, depending on the environment.When the C14 method was originally developed, Libby and his research team had to assume that the ratios of the carbon isotopes they were measuring had been altered only by 14C decay (Taylor, 1987:3) and that the sample material accurately represented the event to be dated.Sample materials deposited in archaeological or geological contexts seldom remain in pristine condition, of course, they are often degraded and altered chemically.

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