Radiocarbon dating also referred to as carbon dating or carbon dating is a method for determining the age of an object containing organic material by using the properties of radiocarbon , a radioactive isotope of carbon. The method was developed in the late s at the University of Chicago by Willard Libby , who received the Nobel Prize in Chemistry for his work in It is based on the fact that radiocarbon 14 C is constantly being created in the atmosphere by the interaction of cosmic rays with atmospheric nitrogen. The resulting 14 C combines with atmospheric oxygen to form radioactive carbon dioxide , which is incorporated into plants by photosynthesis ; animals then acquire 14 C by eating the plants. When the animal or plant dies, it stops exchanging carbon with its environment, and thereafter the amount of 14 C it contains begins to decrease as the 14 C undergoes radioactive decay. Measuring the amount of 14 C 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.
At higher temperatures, CO 2 has poor solubility in water, which means there is less CO 2 available for the photosynthetic reactions. The enrichment of bone 13 C also implies that excreted material is depleted in 13 C relative to the diet. The carbon exchange between atmospheric CO 2 and carbonate at the ocean surface is also subject to fractionation, with 14 C in the atmosphere more likely than 12 C to dissolve in the ocean.
This increase in 14 C concentration almost exactly cancels out the decrease caused by the upwelling of water containing old, and hence 14 C depleted, carbon from the deep ocean, so that direct measurements of 14 C radiation are similar to measurements for the rest of the biosphere.
Correcting for isotopic fractionation, as is done for all radiocarbon dates to allow comparison between results from different parts of the biosphere, gives an apparent age of about years for ocean surface water. The CO 2 in the atmosphere transfers to the ocean by dissolving in the surface water as carbonate and bicarbonate ions; at the same time the carbonate ions in the water are returning to the air as CO 2. The deepest parts of the ocean mix very slowly with the surface waters, and the mixing is uneven.
The main mechanism that brings deep water to the surface is upwelling, which is more common in regions closer to the equator. Upwelling is also influenced by factors such as the topography of the local ocean bottom and coastlines, the climate, and wind patterns. Overall, the mixing of deep and surface waters takes far longer than the mixing of atmospheric CO 2 with the surface waters, and as a result water from some deep ocean areas has an apparent radiocarbon age of several thousand years.
Upwelling mixes this "old" water with the surface water, giving the surface water an apparent age of about several hundred years after correcting for fractionation. The northern and southern hemispheres have atmospheric circulation systems that are sufficiently independent of each other that there is a noticeable time lag in mixing between the two. Since the surface ocean is depleted in 14 C because of the marine effect, 14 C is removed from the southern atmosphere more quickly than in the north.
For example, rivers that pass over limestonewhich is mostly composed of calcium carbonatewill acquire carbonate ions. Similarly, groundwater can contain carbon derived from the rocks through which it has passed. Volcanic eruptions eject large amounts of carbon into the air.
Dormant volcanoes can also emit aged carbon. Any addition of carbon to a sample of a different age will cause the measured date to be inaccurate. Contamination with modern carbon causes a sample to appear to be younger than it really is: the effect is greater for older samples. Samples for dating need to be converted into a form suitable for measuring the 14 C content; this can mean conversion to gaseous, liquid, or solid form, depending on the measurement technique to be used.
Before this can be done, the sample must be treated to remove any contamination and any unwanted constituents. Particularly for older samples, it may be useful to enrich the amount of 14 C in the sample before testing. This can be done with a thermal diffusion column. Once contamination has been removed, samples must be converted to a form suitable for the measuring technology to be used.
For accelerator mass spectrometrysolid graphite targets are the most common, although gaseous CO 2 can also be used. The quantity of material needed for testing depends on the sample type and the technology being used.
There are two types of testing technology: detectors that record radioactivity, known as beta counters, and accelerator mass spectrometers. For beta counters, a sample weighing at least 10 grams 0. For decades after Libby performed the first radiocarbon dating experiments, the only way to measure the 14 C in a sample was to detect the radioactive decay of individual carbon atoms.
Libby's first detector was a Geiger counter of his own design. He converted the carbon in his sample to lamp black soot and coated the inner surface of a cylinder with it. This cylinder was inserted into the counter in such a way that the counting wire was inside the sample cylinder, in order that there should be no material between the sample and the wire. Libby's method was soon superseded by gas proportional counterswhich were less affected by bomb carbon the additional 14 C created by nuclear weapons testing.
These counters record bursts of ionization caused by the beta particles emitted by the decaying 14 C atoms; the bursts are proportional to the energy of the particle, so other sources of ionization, such as background radiation, can be identified and ignored.
What is Radiocarbon Dating?
The counters are surrounded by lead or steel shielding, to eliminate background radiation and to reduce the incidence of cosmic rays. In addition, anticoincidence detectors are used; these record events outside the counter and any event recorded simultaneously both inside and outside the counter is regarded as an extraneous event and ignored.
The other common technology used for measuring 14 C activity is liquid scintillation counting, which was invented inbut which had to wait until the early s, when efficient methods of benzene synthesis were developed, to become competitive with gas counting; after liquid counters became the more common technology choice for newly constructed dating laboratories.
The counters work by detecting flashes of light caused by the beta particles emitted by 14 C as they interact with a fluorescing agent added to the benzene. Like gas counters, liquid scintillation counters require shielding and anticoincidence counters.
For both the gas proportional counter and liquid scintillation counter, what is measured is the number of beta particles detected in a given time period.
This provides a value for the background radiation, which must be subtracted from the measured activity of the sample being dated to get the activity attributable solely to that sample's 14 C. In addition, a sample with a standard activity is measured, to provide a baseline for comparison. The ions are accelerated and passed through a stripper, which removes several electrons so that the ions emerge with a positive charge.
A particle detector then records the number of ions detected in the 14 C stream, but since the volume of 12 C and 13 Cneeded for calibration is too great for individual ion detection, counts are determined by measuring the electric current created in a Faraday cup. Any 14 C signal from the machine background blank is likely to be caused either by beams of ions that have not followed the expected path inside the detector or by carbon hydrides such as 12 CH 2 or 13 CH.
A 14 C signal from the process blank measures the amount of contamination introduced during the preparation of the sample. These measurements are used in the subsequent calculation of the age of the sample. The calculations to be performed on the measurements taken depend on the technology used, since beta counters measure the sample's radioactivity whereas AMS determines the ratio of the three different carbon isotopes in the sample.
To determine the age of a sample whose activity has been measured by beta counting, the ratio of its activity to the activity of the standard must be found. To determine this, a blank sample of old, or dead, carbon is measured, and a sample of known activity is measured. The additional samples allow errors such as background radiation and systematic errors in the laboratory setup to be detected and corrected for. The results from AMS testing are in the form of ratios of 12 C13 Cand 14 Cwhich are used to calculate Fm, the "fraction modern".
Both beta counting and AMS results have to be corrected for fractionation. The calculation uses 8, the mean-life derived from Libby's half-life of 5, years, not 8, the mean-life derived from the more accurate modern value of 5, years. Libby's value for the half-life is used to maintain consistency with early radiocarbon testing results; calibration curves include a correction for this, so the accuracy of final reported calendar ages is assured.
The reliability of the results can be improved by lengthening the testing time. Radiocarbon dating is generally limited to dating samples no more than 50, years old, as samples older than that have insufficient 14 C to be measurable. Older dates have been obtained by using special sample preparation techniques, large samples, and very long measurement times. These techniques can allow measurement of dates up to 60, and in some cases up to 75, years before the present.
This was demonstrated in by an experiment run by the British Museum radiocarbon laboratory, in which weekly measurements were taken on the same sample for six months.
The measurements included one with a range from about to about years ago, and another with a range from about to about Errors in procedure can also lead to errors in the results. The calculations given above produce dates in radiocarbon years: i. To produce a curve that can be used to relate calendar years to radiocarbon years, a sequence of securely dated samples is needed which can be tested to determine their radiocarbon age.
The study of tree rings led to the first such sequence: individual pieces of wood show characteristic sequences of rings that vary in thickness because of environmental factors such as the amount of rainfall in a given year. These factors affect all trees in an area, so examining tree-ring sequences from old wood allows the identification of overlapping sequences. In this way, an uninterrupted sequence of tree rings can be extended far into the past.
The first such published sequence, based on bristlecone pine tree rings, was created by Wesley Ferguson. Suess said he drew the line showing the wiggles by "cosmic schwung ", by which he meant that the variations were caused by extraterrestrial forces.
It was unclear for some time whether the wiggles were real or not, but they are now well-established. A calibration curve is used by taking the radiocarbon date reported by a laboratory and reading across from that date on the vertical axis of the graph. The point where this horizontal line intersects the curve will give the calendar age of the sample on the horizontal axis.
This is the reverse of the way the curve is constructed: a point on the graph is derived from a sample of known age, such as a tree ring; when it is tested, the resulting radiocarbon age gives a data point for the graph.
Over the next thirty years many calibration curves were published using a variety of methods and statistical approaches. The improvements to these curves are based on new data gathered from tree rings, varvescoralplant macrofossilsspeleothemsand foraminifera. The INTCAL13 data includes separate curves for the northern and southern hemispheres, as they differ systematically because of the hemisphere effect.
The southern curve SHCAL13 is based on independent data where possible and derived from the northern curve by adding the average offset for the southern hemisphere where no direct data was available. The sequence can be compared to the calibration curve and the best match to the sequence established. Bayesian statistical techniques can be applied when there are several radiocarbon dates to be calibrated. For example, if a series of radiocarbon dates is taken from different levels in a stratigraphic sequence, Bayesian analysis can be used to evaluate dates which are outliers and can calculate improved probability distributions, based on the prior information that the sequence should be ordered in time.
Several formats for citing radiocarbon results have been used since the first samples were dated. As ofthe standard format required by the journal Radiocarbon is as follows.
Related forms are sometimes used: for example, "10 ka BP" means 10, radiocarbon years before present i. Calibrated dates should also identify any programs, such as OxCal, used to perform the calibration. A key concept in interpreting radiocarbon dates is archaeological association : what is the true relationship between two or more objects at an archaeological site?
It frequently happens that a sample for radiocarbon dating can be taken directly from the object of interest, but there are also many cases where this is not possible.
Metal grave goods, for example, cannot be radiocarbon dated, but they may be found in a grave with a coffin, charcoal, or other material which can be assumed to have been deposited at the same time. They were purchased by the University Library of Leiden in from H. Jorissen, the former Dutch Ambassador to Beirut. This manuscript has been subject to radiocarbon analysis under the auspices of the Corpus Coranicum project and has been dated to - CE with Late in the 19th century the manuscript was in St.
Petersburg, Russia, where it was studied by the Russian orientalist A.
So great was the interest in this codex that in Pisarev or Pissareff was encouraged to publish a facsimile edition. Petersberg, a number of folios were separated from this manuscript and over the years a number of folios have appeared under the hammer at auction or have been sold privately between collectors.
It was found in North Africa. This is a massive Qur'anic manuscript on vellum showing a well-formed kufic script without diacritical marks and ornamentation. The verse endings are marked by small panels of diagonals lines; the tenth verse is marked with a square medallion illuminated in blue, green, red and manganese with a stellar design.
Shebunin dated this manuscript to the early second century hijra. Pisarev,  Jeffery dated it to the early ninth century. Figure The recto side of folio of manuscript Leiden Or. This manuscript was privately acquired by C. Van Arendonk was a curator of the Leiden Oriental collections.
Qur'ans written on papyrus are quite rare. This is because papyrus, unlike parchment, is not as durable a material for everyday use.
Due to their fragile nature combined with regular use of the Qur'an, these manuscripts may not have survived. The recent radiocarbon dating of this papyrus under the auspices of the Corpus Coranicum project gave a date range of - CE with Figure Ms. This privately-owned fragment of the Qur'an is unpublished and remains in the private collection of Professor Dr. Mark Mersiowsky, located in Stuttgart, Germany.
This manuscript, consisting of one folio only, was subject to radiocarbon analysis under the auspices of the Corpus Coranicum project and has been dated to - CE with This Qur'an is written on 7 lines per page measuring on average Figure A folio from Arabe m belongs to Codex R.
This small Qur'an is written on 6 lines per page measuring on average just The largest section is kept under shelfmark R. Additionally there are four other folios, Ms. Arabe mff. Figure A folio from Ms. This Qur'an is written on 5 lines per page measuring on average Numerous folios have been acquired on the open market and are scattered around the world in various public and private collections.
Table I below provides a summary of radiocarbon dated manuscripts of the Qur'an that have been described and fully referenced in the previous section. Some manuscripts were dated several times to understand the accuracy of the process as well as to presumably check the location-dependent changes in dating that may be observed.
Table I: List of radiocarbon dated manuscripts of Qur'an. As shown in Table I, it has been radiocarbon-dated in five different labs in five different countries. This also serves as a platform to independently verify the agreement on dating performed in various laboratories. Agreement between independent radiocarbon tests conducted at different laboratories is a very useful method for weeding out aberrations due to mishandling of samples. One may conclude that the radiocarbon tests completed at Lyon are suspect due to their irreproducibility.
The application of radiocarbon dating to early Qur'ans has also resulted in a raft of questionable, bizarre and even absurd hypotheses from non-scientists. It is not clear whether such attempts are to anchor their own chronological reconstruction of history or to construct a totally "new science" to extricate their version of history.
We will examine some of these prominent hypotheses below. Being well served by historians, is Qur'anic studies really in need of carbon dating? After all there are some major drawbacks to this method - it is very expensive and destructive. Other serious issues include the wide range of calendar years in which a manuscript could have been written. Scholars have successfully utilised "traditional" dating methods such as palaeography, codicology and art history that utilise script, format, ornamentation and illumination which are then compared, where possible, with their dated counterparts in architecture.
In short, why bother? Being a modern invention, some historians have become unduly skeptical in embracing radiocarbon dating. Two Qur'ans, both with endowment notices, were carbon dated by the Centre de Datation par le Radiocarbone de Lyon, France, and provided a range of dates that preceded the date given in the endowment notices by around 50 and years, respectively. It is also important to remember that the carbon dating of parchment is an imprecise science something indicated by the large range of possible dates given for the various fragments.
An imprecise science does not follow the scientific method - the method that involves testing an idea and modifying the idea to fit the evidence. Radiocarbon dating utilizes the knowledge of the unstable nature of 14 C with a precise half-life that makes it easy to measure, thus making it an absolute dating method.
As a test, inWillard Libby and his team took samples of acacia from two ancient Egyptian Old Kingdom rulers and dated them. Therefore, it is clear that radiocarbon dating is not based on some imprecise science, cooking up evidence to fit the idea or data.
On the other hand, palaeography is a relative dating method which gives an order of events without giving an exact age. Thus, generally speaking, it cannot be used to pinpoint dates with high precision. Is palaeography a form of science? Commenting on the issues regarding the dating of inscriptions, William M. Schniedewind says:.
The so-called science of paleography often relies on circular reasoning because there is insufficient data to draw precise conclusion about dating.
Scholars also tend to oversimplify diachronic development, assuming models of simplicity rather than complexity. In other words, palaeography can at best be termed as an inexact science, filled with uncertainties and imprecisions. It is not judicious to upscale palaeography for its reliability whilst, on the other hand, putting down radiocarbon dating for its alleged lack thereof. So, what is the general "rule of thumb" followed in dating manuscripts via palaeography?
This kind of precision dating defies the realities of scribal activity. The productive writing life of a scribe was probably around thirty or thirty-five years. Add to that the fact that the scribal profession was an apprenticed trade, with students learning a particular style from a teacher, and we find that a given hand may be present over multiple generations of scribes.
Dating of manuscripts controversially suggests Quran may be older than Prophet Mohammed
Thus the "rule of thumb" should probably be to avoid dating a hand more precisely than a range of at least seventy or eighty years. This is comparable with the "rule of thumb" of at least a range of 70 to 80 years used in palaeography for dating a manuscript. Unlike radiocarbon dating, it is worth noting that a range of 70 to 80 years used in palaeography has no confidence level attached to it. The choice of whether to believe in such a "confidence level" is entirely up to an individual.
In any case, the Birmingham results suggest that Lyon might not have botched the job after all. Intriguingly, the first date range from Lyon - corresponds rather closely to the date range given from a laboratory in Oxford for the Birmingham manuscript - What is telling here is the fact that Reynolds, instead of using a scientific approach to look at the problem, applies his own reasoning that must necessarily accord with his preferred historical interpretation. How does one make a rational choice as to which date, if any, out of these three is correct?
The answer is that there is no way of knowing if Lyon botched the job unless these three dates are independently compared with those obtained from other labs. Reynolds makes no attempt to use the scientific method here. He says. Nevertheless, the dating of these manuscripts has proven to be highly problematic and controversial. Suffice to say that the process of radiocarbon dating does not seem to be working accurately on these materials.
For instance, one such manuscript, now in Birmingham, England, has been given a date range that places it before Muhammad began his religious movement. It is not clear as to why the radiocarbon dating of these manuscripts is inaccurate. Furthermore, how does Shoemaker know that the dating is inaccurate? Has he got independent, consistent and reliable radiocarbon data of each of these manuscripts which can prove his case? It is worthwhile pointing out that when applied to parchments in fields other than Qur'anic studies, radiocarbon dating has yielded results that are "generally Shoemaker says the Qur'an could predate Muhammad but elsewhere his radical reinterpretation of Islam's origins necessitates he cannot accept a date for the codification i.
For him the Qur'an can predate or antedate Muhammad; that it could coincide is not a consideration. Here the problem may lie with the conditions arid or semi-arid climate under which the cattle, the hides of which were later turned into parchment, was raised.
Thus, according to his view, the arid or semi-arid climate in which the parchment for Qur'anic manuscripts were produced does not lend itself to accurate radiocarbon dating. There are numerous problems with this view. As we had noted earlier, radiocarbon 14 C is produced via the cosmogenic process and this happens at stratospheric altitudes of 9 to 15 km above the surface of the Earth. In general, the cosmic rays flux remains constant and observed fluctuations in production rate of 14 C are controlled by geomagnetic field strength and solar activity.
Thus seasonal changes and presence of moisture on the surface of the Earth have no effect on the production rate of 14 C. What about the variation of decay of radiocarbon 14 C due to the chemical environment around the atom? Thus, the variation of just a percentage or so, is much too small to affect Earth's overall time scale and consequently the radiocarbon dating itself.
If one were to instead use the data from the southern hemisphere and we are talking about Arabia hereI am told by those more expert in this procedure than me that very different datings would result. To begin with, Arabia is not in the Southern Hemisphere. It is situated in the Northern Hemisphere between the latitudes The Tropic of Cancer at As for the global atmospheric radiocarbon content, it is controlled by several factors such as climatic changes, oceanic circulation, solar output and geomagnetic variability.
It has been demonstrated that Southern Hemisphere samples have lower 14 C contents. The question now is how much older are the radiocarbon samples from the Southern Hemisphere compared to the Northern Hemisphere? Furthermore, it is not surprising that the calibration data set for the Northern Hemisphere IntCal series is different from that of the Sourthern Hemisphere SHCal seriesand that these are frequently ated to fine tune the respective calibration curves.
That is, these manuscripts are from 1st century of hijra. Shoemaker's argument against radiocarbon dating shifts from raising the inter-hemispheric offset to intra-hemispheric changes in radiocarbon content.
The problem, it would seem, is that radiocarbon dating in the medieval period is only accurate when it can be calibrated by tree ring data, particularly from oak trees. Such data is wanting for the medieval Mediterranean or Near East, and the data from the northern hemisphere that has been used to calibrate these tests was taken from Ireland and North America.
There are several inaccuracies in the above set of statements. The work of the Aegean Dendrochronology Project started in s and since then it has continued since to build the long tree-ring chronologies for the eastern half of the Mediterranean. Its aim was to make scientific sense of the Aegean and Near Eastern chronology from the Neolithic Age to the present. The most recent state as of late of the Aegean tree-ring chronology is shown in Figure 23 which also appeared in a slightly expanded form in Figure The state of Aegean tree-ring chronologies as of late This is an ate of the bar graph published in Less common species such as boxwood and yew are removed in this plot.
Source: Aegean Dendrochronology Project.
Jul 24, Carbon Dating Reveals One of the Oldest Known Copies of the Quran Researchers at an Oxford lab were able to use radiocarbon dating to determine when the animal that the skin belonged to died. Radiocarbon, or Carbon dating, was developed by W. F. Libby, E. C. Anderson and J. R. Arnold in  This radiometric dating technique is a way of determining the age of certain archaeological artefacts of a biological origin up to about 50, years old.
Now that we have established the fact that the dendrochronological data from oak trees among others already exist, let us now look into the issue of calibration.
Shoemaker says that since the calibration is done using the tree-ring data from Ireland and North America, it can't be trusted for dating medieval Mediterranean and Near East samples. The tacit assumption of his claim is that the chronology derived from the tree-ring data from Ireland and North America is very different from what is obtained from the Mediterranean and Near East samples.
One of the fundamental tenets of radiocarbon dating is that within each hemisphere there was sufficient mixing of the pre-industrial atmosphere to allow the use of a universal 14 C calibration dataset. On the issue of calibration, it must be mentioned that the dendrochronological database for the IntCal04 curve is largely similar to the dataset of the IntCal98 curve, but also includes new measurements for the Iron Age period, for example, German Oak samples run for the East Mediterranean Radiocarbon Comparison Project.
A trial run of the model against the IntCal04 calibration curve gave essentially similar results, albeit that the dates become slightly older.
Reynolds, on the other hand, claimed that the dating of Dead Sea Scrolls may be considered more accurate than the dating of manuscripts of Qur'an. His reasoning is as follows:. This allows scientists to calibrate their measurements more precisely. This is entirely erroneous. The tree ring atmospheric radiocarbon calibration data set spanning 0 to 12, years BP is used Figure It is superior to all other atmospheric radiocarbon calibration data due to the number and quality of the radiocarbon measurements and the accuracy and precision of the tree dendrochronology.
Dating - the Radiocarbon Way
Figure Schematic diagram of IntCal04 and Marine04 calibration data set construction. The IntCal09 uses a similar data set. Said scraps of linen and piece of leather are dated using the standard calibration data set.
It appears that Reynolds does not properly comprehend how radiocarbon calibration curves are constructed. Strained, arbitrary and impossible interpretations of science, in our case of the science of radiocarbon dating, can lead to endless possibilities, i. We have already seen specific examples in the above sub-sections.
Here we are going to deal with historical constructions or possibilities that have been put forth which are a result of interpretations of radiocarbon dating, more specifically of the Mingana folios at Birmingham.
Parchment was an expensive material the skin of the entire animal was used to produce the big folio. These stocks became part of the loot captured by the Arabs in the first years of the conquest. To test this hypothesis, it is necessary to reread the existing historical sources dedicated to the first years of the Arab conquests.
In essence, one is asked to believe in the fantastic hypothesis that the people of Greater Syria among other places stocked already prepared blank parchment and were eagerly awaiting the advent of Islam and Arab conquests in order to hand them willingly this valuable possession.
In essence one is to believe unused parchment had been left for years! Why would the seller s expend an enormous amount of time, money and effort to prepare a multitude of blank parchment with no customer or no prospect of a customer?
This in itself is self-contradictory and it assumes a thriving market. Additionally, if a client could afford to have such a codex constructed, why would one rely on parchment that is years old? Rich patrons presumably could afford brand new parchment, given the likely deterioration of prepared stocked parchment that is years old.
Did the new rulers and their subjects need recourse to stocked parchment? We are not aware of any example in early Islamic history where the Muslims were unable to execute a writing project because of the lack of prepared stocked parchment.
Common sense dictates if the Muslims desperately needed parchment to write on, they could have simply requested already used parchment, religious or otherwise, scraped it clean and started writing.
All of the preceding assumes the existence and logical necessity of prepared stocked parchment that is years old. Rezvan cites no historical sources supportive of his hypothesis, and, as far as we are aware, there is no recorded instance around the time of late antiquity of prepared blank parchment being stored for years.
Unfortunately, his misunderstanding of the radiocarbon date range has resulted in him adopting an ad hoc randomly generated number range to satisfy his hypothesis retrospectively.
He concludes. Reynolds has expended a not inconsiderate amount of effort explaining, identifying and at times advocating John Wansbrough's theories, including Wansbrough's now abandoned theory of a late compilation of the Qur'an. There is not the slightest hint of historical context that necessitates the wholesale re-writing of the Late Antiquity, including nascent religious movements, inter-religious dynamics, Arabic palaeography, codicology, scribal culture and book culture.
This kind of irresponsible flip-flopping is unlikely to benefit the field of Qur'anic studies and leaves the author's stated position on this most important issue confused and uncertain. There is an important methodological principle to be observed here. Arabe a and Ms. With the benefit of further examination and additional evidence, he has since revised his views and now considers them as emanating from the same manuscript. One must be very careful not to make assumptions and generalisations on the basis of a few tests.
As described in the previous section, sample pretreatment is absolutely critical if one wants to obtain the most accurate measurements. Who then should have the final say in matters relating to dating? It may seem what is at stake here is the historian's craft. Spending decades honing skills learnt from masters in the field, it is only natural to encounter some pushback against a recently developed detached scientific method, especially when it appears to undermine commonly accepted historical paradigms.
However, there need not be any confrontation.
One of the great benefits and advantages of radiocarbon dating is that scholarly prejudice and pre-suppositions about the genesis of Arabic scripts and Qur'anic manuscripts are not factored into the calculation. It cannot, however, be seen as disadvantageous or faulty when it appears to clash with one's own chronological reconstruction. A collaborative approach that makes full use of scientific tests whilst remaining anchored in time tested traditional historical methods is more likely to provide the most fruitful results.
The invention of radiocarbon dating has been revolutionary for the humanities. One of the great benefits and advantages of this method of dating is that scholarly prejudice and pre-suppositions regarding the genesis of Arabic scripts and Qur'anic manuscripts are not factored into the calculation. Nevertheless, one of the downsides are the potential large time intervals which do not prove very useful in dating manuscripts very precisely, though this has been mitigated somewhat by the year on year improvement in accuracy and precision.
At the outset when this technique was being considered for application to the Qur'an, specialists were rightly cautious and skeptical regarding the usefulness of the expected results. Writing inGerd-R. Puin pointed out radiocarbon dating had results scattered over a large time period, sometimes spanning a few hundred years. He suggested the "traditional" methods of Arabic palaeography were more precise and offered a smaller range for dating Qur'anic manuscripts.
Since then much progress has been made in the intervening thirty years.
Radiocarbon dating quran
One can take a positive view of the science and see in the interpretation of its results an avenue of further enquiry into the examination of Islamic Origins. Of course, radiocarbon dating was not developed as a tool to advance the traditional account of the compilation and transmission of the Qur'an, though this is the impression one may be left with reading certain scholarly articles and popular level works written by scholars.
Faulty understanding of the scientific principles underpinning this radiometric dating technique have caused some modern scholars working in Islamic Studies to imagine improbable and sometimes absurd hypotheses. Some seem to suggest the wholesale dismissal of this technique. Others that this technique doesn't work for the Qur'an. Flowing from this are a series of misunderstandings resulting in false assertions and scientific inaccuracies. Key terms such as probability, accuracy and precision are found to be poorly understood.
A common feature of all of these criticisms, at present without exception, is that not a single scientific study is cited in support of such views. Instead we are treated to a mish-mash of pseudo-scientific discussions occasionally referencing unnamed and unknown persons who apparently provided certain scientific information. Some of the discussion is strained to coincide with the authors preferred historical reconstruction.
Our discussion points to the fact that even though the palaeographic and radiocarbon results usually match each other, the scientific method of radiocarbon dating can assist in generating and informing the debate regarding the chronology of Qur'anic manuscripts. In fact, more than twenty years ago similar conclusions were reached for the Dead Sea Scrolls using radiocarbon and palaeographic datings.
The radiocarbon method can only supplement, and at times complement, the "traditional" palaeography and is gaining prominence in dating. As the accuracy and precision of radiocarbon dating improves with every passing year, one would be wise to take heed of Blair's insistence on utilising a more comprehensive approach than is currently the case, insisting that the adoption of multi-disciplinary sophistication will help to solve the disputes on dating early Qur'anic manuscripts.
Libby for development of the 14 C dating technique is given on p. Scott, G. Petersburg ", Manuscripta Orientalia, Volume 6, No. This leaf immediately precedes the leaf described in the previous Sotheby's auction containing the verses Including this folio, several other folios of this manuscript have been carbon tested at a total of five different laboratories worldwide.
With the exception of an impossibly early date given by one lab, they are in general agreement. See, C. Zink Eds. A further carbon test is given by Corpus Coranicum here. It would be prudent to treat these results with caution until further investigations are made.
Aug 14, Islamic Awareness have just put up an amazingly thorough examination of radiocarbon (Carbon) dating of manuscripts of the Qur'an. On Twitter the author says: "One can notice that almost all the criticism on radiocarbon dating is due to misunderstanding of science and maths. The criticism has nothing to do with faulty science or imprecise calibration, . Sep 01, Dating of manuscripts controversially suggests Quran may be older than Prophet Mohammed. New radiocarbon analysis by University of Oxford have dated the folios to between and AD with accuracy, Yet others may challenge radiocarbon dating itself as a tool of evidence, as it creates a range of possible ages, not definitive Author: Lizleafloor. Jul 22, A Qur'an manuscript held by the University of Birmingham has been placed among the oldest in the world thanks to modern scientific methods. Radiocarbon analysis has dated the parchment on which the text is written to the period between .
Accessed on 5th April Weisweiler gives the starting verse as According to the verse numbering system adopted by the well-known modern printed editions, it is Milo Eds. Chivall, J.
Graystone, D. Baker, E. Henderson and P. Ditchfield 19 April Many earlier mainly non-Islamic traditions refer to him as still alive at the time of the invasion of Palestine.
See Stephen J. The Qur'an: an Encyclopedia. New York, NY: Routledge. Saudi Gazette. Archived from the original on 6 September Retrieved 27 July Qur'ans of the Umayyads: a first overview.
Daily Sabah. The Huffington Post. Retrieved 4 February Mingana Collection Birmingham Quran manuscript. Category Commons. Categories : Quranic manuscripts University of Birmingham Cadbury. Hidden categories: CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list Wikipedia articles needing page number citations from August Articles containing French-language text All articles with unsourced statements Articles with unsourced statements from October Commons category link is on Wikidata Articles with hCards Use dmy dates from March Namespaces Article Talk.