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Normal handling will not contaminate most sample types, however, samples should be protected from sources of extraneous carbon.
These may be involved with uncertain reservoir corrections, especially for shell dates, corrections for isotopic fractionation and failure to specify whether the old or new half-life was used.
The individual laboratory code number, which is prefixed to radiocarbon measurements from that particular lab.
Radiocarbon dating is the principal method for determining the age of carbon-bearing materials from the present to about 50,000 years ago.
The method takes advantage of the natural occurrence of a radioactive isotope of carbon (C in samples of ancient carbon compounds and comparing this with the amount in modern materials, it is possible to determine the time of cessation of carbon exchange with the atmosphere.
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The need for a consensus radiocarbon calibration dataset led to the first internaltionally agreed upon calibration in 1982 (Klein et al., 1982). C yr BP, the single year calibration curve may be used for higher time resolution comparisons although a moving average of 2 to 3 years is recommended to reduce the noise and hence the number of cal ranges.
The publication of radiocarbon dates rests almost totally with the submitter of the material.
In many instances, researchers have in recent decades, neglected to publish relevant data describing the sample, laboratory and reference numbers, provenance and reservoir correction details.
Such practices seriously undermine the value of radiocarbon dates because they lack a meaningful context.
Some of the problems associated with interpreting the corpus of radiocarbon data obtained thus far concern variation in reporting.