The most popular method claiming the capability of dating ancient artifacts independently is the radiocarbon method. However, the accumulation of radiocarbon datings has exposed the difficulty of the method’s application.
The intensity of the atmospheric radiation is affected by many cosmic factors. The radioactive carbon isotope production rate should also vary, and one needs to find a method that would take these variations into account. Apart from that, over the period when highways and industrial plants have been introduced by the civilization, a gigantic amount of carbon from the combustion of wood, coal, oil, turf, oil-shales, and their products emanated into the atmosphere.
How does this atmospheric carbon affect the production of its radioactive isotope? In order to get veracious datings, one has to introduce complex corrections into calculations that reflect the changes in the content of the atmosphere over the last millennium. This issue, as well as a number of technical difficulties, casts a shadow of doubt over the precision of many radiocarbon datings.
W. F. Libby, the author of the method, wasn’t a historian and did not question the veracity of the Scaligerian datings, which had been used for the justification of his method. W. F. Libby had a priori been certain of the veracity of Scaligerian datings.
He wrote that they “…had no contradictions with the historians in what concerned ancient Rome and Egypt. We did not conduct anything in the way of extensive research related to this epoch [sic! ], since its chronology, in general, is known to the archaeologists a lot better than whatever our methods could estimate, so the archaeologists were doing us favor providing specimens [which are actually destroyed, being burned in the radiocarbon measurement process”.
This confession of Libby’s tells us a lot since the deficiencies of Scaligerian chronology directly concern the regions and epochs that he and his team “did not research extensively enough.”
In what concerns the several reference measurements that were conducted on ancient artifacts, the situation is as follows. The radiocarbon dating of the Egyptian collection of J. H. Breasted “suddenly discovered the third object that we analyzed to have been contemporary,” according to Libby. “It was one of the findings… considered… to belong to the V dynasty [2563-2423 b.c., or roughly four millennia before our time]. It has proved a heavy blow indeed”.
Why could it have been such a blow? The physicists appear to have restored the veracious dating of the Egyptian specimen, proving the old one to have been wrong. What’s the problem with that?
The problem is, of course, the simple fact that any such dating would prove a menace to the Scaligerian chronology. Carrying on in that vein would lead Libby to compromise the entire history of ancient Egypt. The specimen that Libby had been careless enough to have claimed as modern had to be called a forgery and disposed of, which is only natural since the archaeologists could not have possibly let the heretical thought of the XVI-XVII
century a.d. (considering the method’s precision of +/-1000 years) origin of the “ancient” Egyptian finding enter their minds.
The evidence that the proponents of the method used for proving the veracity of their method is rather insubstantial, with all the indications being indirect, the calculations imprecise, and the interpretation ambiguous, the main argument being the radiocarbon datings of the specimens whose age is known for certain is used for reference… Every
time referential measurements are mentioned, everybody quotes the results of the first referential datings that were obtained for a very limited number of specimens
Libby recognizes the absence of substantial referential statistics. Together with the millenarian dating deviations mentioned above (explained as a consequence of a series of forgeries), we may thus question the very validity of the method as used for dating specimens belonging to the period that we’re interested in, covering the two millennia preceding our century. This discussion does not concern the applicability
of the method for geological purposes, however, where millenarian deviations are considered insubstantial.
W. F. Libby writes that “there was no deficiency in materials belonging to the epoch preceding ours by 3700 years for checking the precision and the dependability of the method”. However, there is nothing here to compare radiocarbon datings to, since there are no dated written documents dating from those epochs. Libby also informs us that his historian acquaintances “are perfectly certain of the veracity of the datings referring to the last 3750 years, however, their certainty does not spread as far as the
events that precede this era”.
In other words, the radiocarbon method has been used most extensively for the period of time that doesn’t allow the verification of the results by any other independent method, which makes life a lot easier for historians.
Could it be that the errors of the method are rather insubstantial and allow for an approximate dating of the specimens belonging to the last two or three millennia?
The state of affairs appears to be a graver one. The errors of radiocarbon dating are too great and too chaotic. They can amount to several millennia in what concerns contemporary and medieval objects.