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Modern effects such as fossil fuel burning and nuclear testing have also changed atmospheric carbon-14 levels and in turn change the “starting point” for a radiocarbon test.All in all, setting the parameters of the carbon-14 test is more of an art than a science.
That’s not unusual in science, so far as it goes, but the relationship between assumptions and interpretations must be kept in mind. At worst, it can make carbon dating circular and self-confirming, though there are other means of dating that can reduce this risk.
Most archaeological items can’t be directly carbon dated, so their dating is based on testing done on nearby objects or materials.
This makes the results subject to the researchers’ assumptions about those objects.
Carbon dating is reliable within certain parameters but certainly not infallible.
When testing an object using radiocarbon dating, several factors have to be considered: First, carbon dating only works on matter that was once alive, and it only determines the approximate date of death for that sample.