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The radiocarbon dating method is based on the fact that radiocarbon is constantly being created in the atmosphere by the interaction of cosmic rays with atmospheric nitrogen.
The resulting radiocarbon combines with atmospheric oxygen to form radioactive carbon dioxide, which is incorporated into plants by photosynthesis; animals then acquire in a sample from a dead plant or animal such as a piece of wood or a fragment of bone provides information that can be used to calculate when the animal or plant died.
Despite extensive site surveys on the Point Riche and Port au Choix Peninsulas from 1984 to 1986 and from 1990 to 1992, the Port au Choix Archaeology Project was unable to locate the Maritime Archaic settlement site that must have complemented the cemetery [1, 2].
Sites pre-dating the cemetery were not found, consistent with the known prehistory of the Island of Newfoundland which has no known sites earlier than 5000 BP [3, 4].
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C is created in the atmosphere by cosmic radiation and is taken up by plants and animals as long as they live.
Upon death, the isotope begins to decay and after 5730±40 years half of it is gone.
Each radiocarbon date has a statistical probability shown by the ± number.
This number is called a standard deviation and is a measure of the spread of measurements around the mean (average).
But as more dates became available, Egyptologists, who had hieroglyphic records back thousands of years, began to recognize that C-14 dates were generally too young.