Listen: Dr Karin Sowada in conversation with Stephen O’Doherty.
Carbon dating is a preferred method for archaeologists to establish time-lines for their discoveries. Based on the rate of decay of the carbon-14 isotope, the method is regarded as a standard and reliable technique. However new research out of Cornell University in the United States has cast doubt on some of its underlying assumptions.
Professor Sturt Manning believes that the accuracy of radiocarbon dating may need to be re-evaluated to take into account the effect of regional variations and changes in climate on the data used when calibrating C-14 results.
How significant is this shift? Are we talking eons or centuries?
According to Dr Karin Sowada of Macquarie University, the impact or re-calibrating C-14 dated material from the period is measured in decades, not centuries.
The new calibration may even help solve a puzzle in Biblical Archaeology: getting non-Biblical corroboration of the United Monarchy of David and Solomon.
Karin Sowada is an Australian Research Council Future Fellow leading the Project ‘Pyramids, Power and the Dynamics of States in Crisis’. Her main area of research interest and expertise is interaction between Egypt and the eastern Mediterranean during the Early Bronze Age (c. 3100-2000 BC).
On Open House we asked Karin about the reliability of carbon dating and the relationship between archaeology and Biblical history.
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