This question is sharpened in light of the fact that the uncertainty in the usual radiocarbon readings (plus or minus 25 years or so) may be as large as the difference in dates in the debate. Measuring the remaining carbon-14 content in “long-term” organic samples, such as wood, will provide the date of growth of the tree, rather than the date of the archaeological stratum in which the sample was found.Furthermore, wooden beams were reused in later strata, which can result in even greater differences in date.Dig into the illuminating world of the Bible with a BAS All-Access membership.Combine a one-year tablet and print subscription to BAR with membership in the BAS Library to start your journey into the ancient past today!Moreover, as so much emphasis is put on questions of different calibration methods and different statistical manipulations, sometimes the archaeological evidence is neglected and the data are not properly presented.The first stage in every discussion should be the proper presentation of the main archaeological finds—that is, stratigraphy and pottery.But it is much more useful regarding broader archaeological periods.The differences in the various dates for the transition from Iron I to Iron IIa are too small to be helped much by radiocarbon dating.
Is radiocarbon dating accuracy indeed more reliable to determine Bible chronology than traditional dating methods that rely on archaeological evidence that looks at strata context? The material’s period of growth might be many decades from the era in which it was used or reused, say, in building construction.Since these “long-term” samples may introduce the “old wood” effect, any calculation of precise absolute dates based on “long-term” samples is unreliable and may easily lead to errors of up to several decades or even more.For this reason, researchers prefer to use “short-life” samples, such as seeds, grain or olive pits. In many studies, particular radio-carbon dates are not considered valid because they do not match the majority of dated samples from the site in question.According to the so-called high chronology, the transition occurred around 1000 or 980 B. The hope of many scholars who feel that this science-based radiocarbon research will bring the debate to its longed-for solution is, in my view, difficult to adopt.The question I would like to raise is whether radiocarbon dating is really more precise, objective and reliable than the traditional way of dating when applied to the problem of the date of the transition from Iron I to Iron IIa.