The Boon and Bane of Radiocarbon Dating

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Science  21 Jan 2005:
Vol. 307, Issue 5708, pp. 362-364
DOI: 10.1126/science.1104164

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Radiocarbon is widely used to determine the age of samples that are less than 50000 years old, but the conversion of radiocarbon ages to calendar ages is not always straightforward. In their Perspective, Guilderson et al . analyze the calibrated age ranges that can be obtained from the current calibration standard, the IntCall98 curve. They take into account not only the inherent limitations of the radiocarbon-calendar calibration curve, but also analytical uncertainties. The results bear directly on our ability to understand the dynamic climate system and the relations between climate and past societies.