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orion-list Corrected Radioactive Message

I made an error of 10 in one crucial figure and mistakenly took
Present for 1990 instead of 1950.  It now reads as intended.

I'm surprised no one caught to either error.  Personally, I should 
ALWAYS have someone else check my calculations.  As a teacher, 
making errors on the board is an excellent way to keep students 
on their toes.  Doesn't seem to work on the net.


----- Start of Forwarded Message -----
From: Tom Simms
Reply-To: tsimms@nbnet.nb.ca
Subject: Re: orion-list Radiocarbon
Date: Mon, 11 Oct 1999 14:30:50 AST
Message-Id: <9911143050.7A39>
X-Mailer: CommSet SMTP Ver:01 Rev:0033  
To: orion@mscc.huji.ac.il

On Mon, 11 Oct 1999 14:45:13 +0200, gd@teol.ku.dk writes:
>Returning to the topic of radiocarbon dating and the Scrolls,
>there is no way the existing data on the texts, if accurate,
>can be harmonized with a 63 BCE terminus for the scrolls. 
>Although I suggested this in a previous post, if it was not
>direct enough I wish to make the point explicit here.  The
>calibration curve between 55 BCE and 85 BCE is essentially
>flat, at about 2075 +/- 20 throughout these three decades. 
>This means any texts from c. 85-63 BCE should all yield
>the same measurement, c. 2075 +/- 20, within margins of
>error.  (Older than 85 BCE the calibration curve rises.)  Any
>texts which measure significantly less than c. 2075 +/- 20
>are therefore indicating younger than 63 BCE.

   Thank you for supplying these numbers, Greg.

   I have summed them and given averages for 
                      _                _
   both the averages (X) and the S.D. (x).

  Then I have provided Before Present (BP) and CE dates, assuming
  they were tested in 1990.
>Five texts did measure significantly below 2075 +/- 20. 
>These are:
> 1QH                 1979 +/- 32
> 4Q266 D(a)          1954 +/- 38
> 4Q258 S(d)          1823 +/- 24 (#1)
>                   / 1964 +/- 45 (#2)
> 4Q171 pPs(a)        1944 +/- 23
> 4Q521 MessAp        1984 +/- 33
>                 _         _
                  X = 1941  x = 31 
              _   _            _   _  
           So X + x = 1972 and X - x = 1911    
          Then BP when P = 1950 is
              BP X = 9 CE                 
             _   _               _   _
     Then BP X + x =  23 BCE, BP X - x = 39 CE  
>It can be seen that these numbers are not consistent with the
>calibration curve level at 85-55 BCE.  These cannot be explained
>as random scatter.  On the hypothesis that many or even most
>of the 19 Qumran texts had true dates in the years 85-55 BCE
>(and none younger) one would expect somewhere between
>only 0 and 1 texts to give numbers like the above--but not five.
>Five of this kind of number is about 4-5 too many.

   IMO, the subset dates don't explain a 68 CE date of deposit.
   As the data stands, the subset argues for one of two
       1.  A second deposit after 63 BCE, or, since no evidence
           I know of has been found suggesting that;
       2.  The sample was contaminated during recovery and treatment.

   Since neither explanations seem capable of resolution, then
   further testing with wider choice of sample is the only option.
   Given the treatment of the material since recovery, it may be 
   neccessary to clean some samples to destruction and lose those
   samples in order to minimize the effect of contamination.

   I'm interested in seeing what Prof.Jull says to your Q's, Greg.
   It will be useful, I'm sure.

   [... snip ... not repeating the earlier post ...]

>Greg Doudna
>Gregory L. Doudna
>Reseach Associate
>U. of Copenhagen Dead Sea Scrolls Initiative
>K=F8bmagergade 44-46                             tel: (45) 35 32 36 34
>1150 K=F8benhavn K                               fax: (45) 35 32 36 52
>DENMARK                                        email: gd@teol.ku.dk


Tom Simms

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