My question about C-14 stems from the Monte Verde site in Chile. C-14 data was used to demonstrate that Monte Verde in 12,000 – 12,700 BC predated the Clovis people by perhaps 500 years. This challenges the well established theory that Clovis was the first North American after crossing over from Asia. For evidence is a neat distribution of arrow heads across North America, and the nasty problem of a glacier really too much for our stone age ancestors to manage. Of course Monte Verde suggests earlier civilizations in North America. In fairness it must also be pointed out that the results of Monte Verde while celebrated and well published are also disputed by some in a recent expedition.
I understand the concerns with the validity of both clues and conclusions at Monte Verde. The site is apparently inadequately documented (see Fiedel) suggesting to my suspicious mind possible foul play (yup, scientists can fake data, though I’ve never met one that did). There may have been multiple migrations from Asia, and those at Monte Verde may have followed the more habitable (and now several hundred feet underwater) then west coast of ice age North America. There is even the suggestion by Haynes that the C-14 data may be the problem. Yup, apparently it may have been flooded, quite extensively, abruptly and quickly around 12,000 BC to 13,000 BC.
So my question. Does not C-14 data utilize judgement, and does this not always imply the possibility of error? The process of dating the half life is not in question. I am also not discussing the possibility of a divine or extraterrestrial force cleaning up their mess after they moved a stone a mile or two (well…they would know about C-14, no?). The issue is knowing what to date, possible confounding environmental factors, contextual differences and I suppose other things that not as an archeologist I am unaware of.
C-14 sounds wonderful, but it does not sound like it is without error. I accept the extraordinarily strong evidence C-14 provides in all cases. But I also want to know the likely hood of a confounding factor, we do sometimes reject null. So If C-14 utilizes judgement, what is the error at someplace like Monte Verde (assuming a valid site) or any other. Is there a p of .01, in the social science that is often cause for celebration. Does C-14 data mean that a mystery is solved, that (subterfuge aside) some enterprising paleolithic generations were present in South America long before they “should be?”
|C-14 and error?||352||Pilgrim333||01-Dec-00 04:43|
|RE: C-14 and error?||125||Vince||01-Dec-00 11:54|
|RE: C-14 and error?||205||robby||02-Dec-00 10:52|
|RE: C-14 LINKS||133||JPA||01-Dec-00 13:17|
|RE: C-14 LINKS||180||Vince||01-Dec-00 19:48|