C-labelled contamination will significantly affect the reliability of dates from the period, producing erroneous results.
Recent developments in sample pre-treatment chemistry have shown that problems in reliable age determination during this period are surmountable.
We will deal with carbon dating first and then with the other dating methods.
Carbon has unique properties that are essential for life on Earth.
The stable C12 and C13, and the unstable or radioactive Carbon 14. Only one C14 atom exists for every one trillion C12 atoms.
We AMS dated two fractions of the same charcoal samples derived from a series of superimposed Mousterian, Aurignacian and Gravettian levels excavated at the site.
Familiar to us as the black substance in charred wood, as diamonds, and the graphite in “lead” pencils, carbon comes in several forms, or isotopes.
One rare form has atoms that are 14 times as heavy as hydrogen atoms: carbon-14, or C ratio gets smaller.
So, we have a “clock” which starts ticking the moment something dies.
Obviously, this works only for things which were once living.
One fraction was treated using the routine acid–base–acid (ABA) method, the other with the more rigorous acid–base-oxidation/stepped combustion (ABOx–SC) method.