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In most cases, the three methods produced similar results.Surprisingly, in at least one case the date range given by There may be other examples of systematic variation in isotope decay rates.Carbon-14 dating cannot be applied to materials that have no C dates are less than that figure.It is sometimes thought possible to extend the dating range a few half-lives, so one occasionally sees dates as old as 70,000 years or more.When these organisms die and fossilise, they appear to be much older than they actually are.And, strange as it may sound, this has an effect on the Carbon-14 content in the clay pots that were used for cooking fish.This can be done very accurately, although some samples may be difficult to work with.Beyond this, the accuracy of the date depends on the reliability of the assumptions used in interpreting the measurements (see below).

A physicist from Aarhus University has together with archaeologists at the Gottorp Castle Museum in Northern Germany made a startling discovery: if ancient people prepared their fish in clay vessels, it’s impossible to date this accurately.It is known that such variations have occurred, but it is thought they can be corrected for by comparing a sample’s C level with the standard curve constructed using samples of known age.Another assumption is that the amounts of carbon-14 present in the geophysical reservoirs must be constant.The reasonableness of this assumption probably depends on the environment around the sample.A sample that is sealed from the surrounding environment is more likely to avoid contamination or loss than one in an open environment where materials may be carried into or out of the sample by water or simple diffusion.

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