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Dig into the illuminating world of the Bible with a BAS All-Access membership.Combine a one-year tablet and print subscription to BAR with membership in the BAS Library to start your journey into the ancient past today!In short, radiocarbon is not the be-all and end-all of the problem.
In the following article, “Carbon 14—The Solution to Dating David and Solomon? Calibration procedures are complex and periodically revised as new information comes to light, skewing the radiocarbon dating accuracy.
” Lily Singer-Avitz attempts to answer these questions. And statistical models also vary from researcher to researcher.
Based on the material finds it is possible to compare sites and regions and create a cultural-chronological horizon.
In some cases today scholars are comparing radiocarbon dates, even before publishing the finds.
Ultimately, radiocarbon dating accuracy for calculating Iron Age dates, and consequentially Bible chronology has varied from researcher to researcher.
When it comes to Bible chronology the difference between a “high” and “low” chronology is a matter of mere decades not centuries. Other opinions place the transition somewhere between the two—in about 950 B. The date is important because the date you choose will determine whether David and Solomon reigned in the archaeologically poor and archaeologically poorly documented Iron I or in the comparatively rich and richly documented Iron IIa.Hopefully, as radiocarbon dating continues to develop, it will eventually be more useful in solving the problems of Iron Age chronology.But at present the use of this method for elucidating the problems of this period, in which the differences between the theories are so small, investment of this huge effort (hundreds of samples must be tested) does not contribute to our understanding of the chronological problems any more than the traditional cultural-historical methods, based on pottery chronology, etc.The imposing Judahite fortress of Khirbet Qeiyafa has been securely dated by pottery and radiocarbon analysis to the early tenth century B. Proponents of low Bible chronology, called minimalists, claim the transition occurred around 920 to 900 B. Proponents of a high Bible chronology put the date around 1000 to 980 B. Some scholars have asked if radiocarbon dating accuracy will help settle the question. Radioactive carbon-14 is used to analyze an organic material, such as wood, seeds, or bones, to determine a date of the material’s growth. Did they live in the archaeological period known as Iron Age I, which is archaeologically poorly documented, or in Iron Age IIa, for which more evidence is available.Therefore a complex procedure known as calibration has been developed, which converts radiocarbon test results to calendar years by relating these results to dendrochronologically dated tree-ring samples.The calibration curve is revised periodically as more data are continuously accumulated.Singer-Avitz claims the material evidence of archaeological stratigraphy, including pottery finds, should not take second place. A useful tool but only one and not the only when it comes to determining Bible chronology. According to the low chronology, the transition to Iron Age IIa occurred around 920–900 B. However, the differences in data between the various schools are not dramatically far apart. In an attempt to solve this chronological problem and to achieve a more accurate date for the transition period, many scholars have resorted to carbon-14 (or radiocarbon) analysis, which can be performed on any organic substance, like wood or grain.The date of the transition from the archaeological period known as Iron Age I to Iron Age IIa is a particularly hotly disputed topic, especially because the date of the transition is crucial for elucidating the history and material culture of the reigns of David and Solomon. It is generally recognized that David conquered Jerusalem in about 1000 B. Radio-carbon dating is regarded by many scholars as accurate, precise and scientific, in contrast to the old cultural-historical methods of dating archaeological strata, which the devotees of radiocarbon regard as inaccurate and intuitive.But the absolute date after calibration depends on which calibration formula is used. This uncertainty ranges from 20 years (for high-precision dating) through intermediate values of 50–100 years, and in some cases up to 100–150 years. For interpreting the results, different statistical models are used by different researchers.The results, depending on the calibration, can be quite different. Naturally, different statistical models for interpretation of the same data will produce different results. After processing the data with all these scientific tools, most archaeologists “improve” the given dates in accordance with broader archaeological and historical considerations.