Radiological Dating

Old Crow Bones and Radiocarbon Dating

In 1966, the Old Crow River in the Yukon Territory, Canada, yielded pieces of animal bone eroding out of a deep gorge. Among fragments of mammoth and bison bone was a sharpened tool (a ‘hide scraper') hand-crafted from the bone of a caribou - a North American reindeer.

When dated by the radiocarbon method, the tool provided a series of dates ranging from 25,000 years to 32,000 years. This was interpreted to mean that man must have lived in the area 20,000 years before the time many archaeologists believe man first arrived in North America.

However, in 1986 D. Earl Nelson of Simon Fraser University, Burnaby, British Columbia, used a nuclear accelerator to test the radioactive age of tiny samples of the bones. Using previously untested protein-containing tissues from the bones, Nelson's tests provided dates almost 30,000 years younger than the original radiocarbon dates. These new dates indicated the bone artefacts were manufactured not 32,000 years ago, but only several hundred years before the birth of Christ.

Such discrepancies again emphasise the caution needed in uncritically accepting dates produced by the radiocarbon dating method. The possibility of erroneous dates because of factors such as contamination, and the probable different ratios of carbon in the atmosphere before Noah's Flood, is huge.

Why then do scientists still place so much faith in radiocarbon dating? The fact is, many don't. For example, excavations in a well-publicised "early man" site at Monte Verde, in south-central Chile, recently yielded evidence of human occupation. Radiocarbon dating suggested humans had inhabited the site 33,000 years ago. The stratigraphic sequence was well documented, yet a number of archaeologists refused to accept the radiocarbon date until the materials had been re-examined by the new dating techniques used on the Old Crow River bones mentioned above.

(Source: Joel W. Grossman, 1987 Britannica Book of the Year, Encyclopaedia Britannica, Inc., Chicago, 1987, pp.143-4. Article: Archaeology.)

Source: 'Creation Ex-Nihilo', Vol. 9, No. 4