Use of radioactivity in carbon dating
Great care must be exercised when linking an event with the context and the context with the sample to be processed by radiocarbon dating.
An archaeologist must also make sure that only the useful series of samples are collected and processed for carbon dating and not every organic material found in the excavation site.
The implication of what is represented by the carbon 14 activity of a sample must be considered.Some samples, like wood, already ceased interacting with the biosphere and have an apparent age at death and linking them to the age of the deposits around the sample would not be wholly accurate.There are also cases when the association between the sample and the deposit is not apparent or easily understood.Other potential contaminants include paper, cardboard, cotton wool, string, and cigarette ash.
Samples must be stored in packaging materials that will protect them during transport and even during prolonged storage.
The proportion of carbon 14 in the sample examined provides an indication of the time elapsed since death of the sample’s source.