Accuracy and precision in radiocarbon dating

The imposing Judahite fortress of Khirbet Qeiyafa has been securely dated by pottery and radiocarbon analysis to the early tenth century B. Proponents of low Bible chronology, called minimalists, claim the transition occurred around 920 to 900 B. Proponents of a high Bible chronology put the date around 1000 to 980 B. Some scholars have asked if radiocarbon dating accuracy will help settle the question. Radioactive carbon-14 is used to analyze an organic material, such as wood, seeds, or bones, to determine a date of the material’s growth.

Did they live in the archaeological period known as Iron Age I, which is archaeologically poorly documented, or in Iron Age IIa, for which more evidence is available.

But the absolute date after calibration depends on which calibration formula is used. This uncertainty ranges from 20 years (for high-precision dating) through intermediate values of 50–100 years, and in some cases up to 100–150 years. For interpreting the results, different statistical models are used by different researchers.

The results, depending on the calibration, can be quite different. Naturally, different statistical models for interpretation of the same data will produce different results. After processing the data with all these scientific tools, most archaeologists “improve” the given dates in accordance with broader archaeological and historical considerations.

Singer-Avitz claims the material evidence of archaeological stratigraphy, including pottery finds, should not take second place. A useful tool but only one and not the only when it comes to determining Bible chronology. According to the low chronology, the transition to Iron Age IIa occurred around 920–900 B. However, the differences in data between the various schools are not dramatically far apart. In an attempt to solve this chronological problem and to achieve a more accurate date for the transition period, many scholars have resorted to carbon-14 (or radiocarbon) analysis, which can be performed on any organic substance, like wood or grain.

The date of the transition from the archaeological period known as Iron Age I to Iron Age IIa is a particularly hotly disputed topic, especially because the date of the transition is crucial for elucidating the history and material culture of the reigns of David and Solomon. It is generally recognized that David conquered Jerusalem in about 1000 B. Radio-carbon dating is regarded by many scholars as accurate, precise and scientific, in contrast to the old cultural-historical methods of dating archaeological strata, which the devotees of radiocarbon regard as inaccurate and intuitive.

Faced with a date for Qeiyafa that confirms the traditional high Bible chronology, the low chronology “minimalists” now desperately argue that Qeiyafa was a Philistine fort tied to the kingdom of Gath, not a border fortress of the early Judahite state. There’s been a lot of debate around the issue of Bible chronology, which more specifically relates to the era of the reigns of David and Solomon.

Let’s not ignore traditional archaeological dating methods. Tagged with archaeological, archaeological evidence, archaeological finds, archaeologist, archaeologists, archaeology, archaeology review, bib arch org, bible, bible chronology, bible history, bible history daily, biblical, biblical arch, Biblical Archaeology, biblical archaeology review, biblicalarchaeology, biblicalarchaeology.org, Cyber Archaeology in the Holy Land The Future of the Past, holy land, iron age, jerusalem, judah, khirbet qeiyafa, king david, low chronology, philistine, qeiyafa, radiocarbon dating accuracy, solomon, tel aviv, the holy land, what is radiocarbon dating.Ultimately, radiocarbon dating accuracy for calculating Iron Age dates, and consequentially Bible chronology has varied from researcher to researcher.When it comes to Bible chronology the difference between a “high” and “low” chronology is a matter of mere decades not centuries. Other opinions place the transition somewhere between the two—in about 950 B. The date is important because the date you choose will determine whether David and Solomon reigned in the archaeologically poor and archaeologically poorly documented Iron I or in the comparatively rich and richly documented Iron IIa.In the following article, “Carbon 14—The Solution to Dating David and Solomon? Calibration procedures are complex and periodically revised as new information comes to light, skewing the radiocarbon dating accuracy.” Lily Singer-Avitz attempts to answer these questions. And statistical models also vary from researcher to researcher.

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