The C-14 dating consists in estimating the age of a material containing carbon knowing that, in the biosphere, all living creatures include a constant quantity of radioactive carbon (C-14) relatively to the amount of stable carbon (C-12). But, as soon as these creatures die, they don’t accumulate carbon anymore and their radioactivity diminishes owing to the phenomenon of the radioactive decay. When one knows the rate of this decrease and the modern activity of the materials, one can measure the activity (number of desintegrations of unstable atomic nuclei per second) of the object to be dated and therefore calculate its age.
All organic materials containing carbon (wood, ivory, bone, textile, paper, …)
1. For all objects with a date prior to 1680 A.D. or after 1954 A.D., we obtain a reliable date assorted with a certain margin of error
2. For all objects which date between 1680 and 1954, we obtain a few possible dates each characterized by a different coefficient of probability (cf. important fluctuations of the C-14 grade in the atmosphere during these last 350 years). The problem is due to the alteration of the solar activity and to the beginning of the industrial era.
3. All dates subsequent to 1954 can easily be defined on account of the alteration of the C-14/C-12 ratio due to the nuclear trials.
The date obtained is that of the constitutive material and not the one corresponding to its workmanship.