Radiocarbon dating standard error

A third factor that might make their tests give too young a date, mentioned by Hertz but not by HJ, is the possibility of colonial repairs or "tuck-pointing" to strengthen a pre-existing structure for conversion to a windmill.In this case, the surface mortar might be colonial, while only the deeper mortar, well inside the joints, would reflect the true date. 93), test cores were taken deep enough to avoid contamination from both rainwater and later repairs.For this reason, the preferred method of dating bone is to isolate the bone collagen, which contains carbon, but in a more stable form.Similarly, lime mortar that is exposed to rain on a regular basis may contain carbonate that dates not from when the mortar first set up, but from much later rainstorms that may have drenched the structure.To make lime mortar as was used in the Newport Tower, limestone (mostly calcium carbonate) is roasted to make calcium oxide, or quicklime.This is first combined with some water to make calcium hydroxide, or slake lime.

These particles are harder than the mortar, and react more slowly with acid.At the time of construction, additional water and sand are added to the slake lime, allowing it to absorb carbon dioxide from the air and to set into crystalline calcium carbonate.Some of the atmospheric carbon dioxide would contain radioactive C-14 rather than inactive C-12 or (less common) C-13, much as photosynthesis captures C-14 from carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.As originally devised circa 1950, radiocarbon dating was based on the assumption that the proportion of C-14 in the atmosphere has been constant over time, so that the amount of C-14 left in a sample would fall exponentially with its age.However, C-14 dating of tree rings of known age subsequently demonstrated that this is not strictly true.

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