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The extended tree ring chronologies are far from absolute, in spite of the popular hype.To illustrate this we only have to consider the publication and subsequent withdrawal of two European tree-ring chronologies.There are many points in a given sequence where a sequence from a new piece of wood matches well (note that even two trees growing next to each other will not have recognized that ring pattern matches are not unique.The best match (using statistical tests) is often rejected in favour of a less exact match because the best match is deemed to be ‘incorrect’ (particularly if it is too far away from the carbon-14 ‘age’).I have tried here to answer some of the frequently asked questions that I receive from students via email, as well as providing some basic information about scientific dating methods."Everything which has come down to us from heathendom is wrapped in a thick fog; it belongs to a space of time we cannot measure.This procedure depends on temporal placement of fragments of wood using carbon-14 (C age and that also extends to a younger age.A tree ring pattern that matches is found close to where the carbon ‘dates’ are the same. It assumes that it is approximately correct to linearly extrapolate the carbon ‘clock’ backwards. The closer one gets back to the Flood the more inaccurate the linear extrapolation of the carbon ‘clock’ would become, perhaps radically so.
The aim here is to provide clear, understandable information relating to radiocarbon dating for the benefit of K12 students, as well as lay people who are not requiring detailed information about the method of radiocarbon dating itself.Rasmus Nyerup's quote reminds us of the tremendous scientific advances which have taken place in the 20th century.In Nyerup's time, archaeologists could date the past only by using recorded histories, which in Europe were based mainly on the Egyptian calendar.So the carbon ‘date’ is used to constrain just which match is acceptable.Consequently, the calibration is a circular process and the tree ring chronology extension is also a circular process that is dependent on assumptions about the carbon dating system.