Carbon dating the dead sea scrolls

According to carbon dating and textual analysis, the documents were written at various times between the middle of the 2nd century BC and the 1st century AD.At least one document has a carbon date range of 21 BC61 AD.Back in the late 1940s, scientists needed large samples of tissue to conduct a test.To date a scroll you pretty much had to destroy it.When a plant or animal is alive, the percentage of carbon 14 in its system is the same as in the surrounding environment.

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According to a view commonly held until the 1990s, the documents were written and hidden by a community of Essenes who lived in the Qumran area.Carbon dating also does not work on fossils; usually they are too old, and they contain very little carbon.In general, other factors, such as changes in solar radiation or the burning of fossil fuels, affect the accuracy of carbon dating procedures, because they cause fluctuations in the relatively constant cycle of in the atmosphere.Scientists can measure the amount of carbon 14 left in a natural material and, working backwards, figure out when the source plant or animal died. When a tanner kills a goat to make its skin into a parchment, the carbon-14 decaying process begins.Hundreds of years later, scientists measure how much carbon 14 is left.The rest (about 15%) of the fragments are yet unidentified.

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