Radiocarbon dating the old stables

The collagen fraction usually yields more reliable dates than the apatite fraction (see Dates on bones).In addition to various pre-treatments, the sample must be burned and converted to a form suitable for the counter.The diminishing levels via decay means that the effective limit for using c14 to estimate time is about 50,000 years. Subsequent work has shown that the half-life of radiocarbon is actually 5730 ± 40 years, a difference of 3% compared to the Libby half-life.However, to avoid confusion all radiocarbon laboratories continue to use the half-life calculated by Libby, sometimes rounding it to 5570 years.

Chemical methods for separating the organic (collagen) from the inorganic (apatite) components of bone created the opportunity to date both components and compare the results.Most samples require chemical pre-treatment to ensure their purity or to recover particular components of the material.The objective of pre-treatment is to ensure that the carbon being analyzed is native to the sample submitted for dating.The ensuing atomic interactions create a steady supply of c14 that rapidly diffuses throughout the atmosphere.Plants take up c14 along with other carbon isotopes during photosynthesis in the proportions that occur in the atmosphere; animals acquire c14 by eating the plants (or other animals).

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Any organic material that is available in sufficient quantity can be prepared for radiocarbon dating.

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