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C12 and C13 are stable carbon isotopes, while C14 (radiocarbon) is a radioactive isotope. In the atmosphere, C14 combines with oxygen to make CO2, which is then incorporated in plants by photosynthesis, and subsequently in animals eating the plants, eventually reaching the entire biosphere.It was originally believed that the amount of C14 in nature was constant, i.e.Carbon is naturally in all living organisms and is replenished in the tissues by eating other organisms or by breathing air that contains carbon.

Experts can compare the ratio of carbon 12 to carbon 14 in dead material to the ratio when the organism was alive to estimate the date of its death.This was corrected by radiocarbon dating of tree rings with a known calendar year date, using the very long-lived California bristlecone pine.This is called calibration, and in general leads to the calibrated dates (in calendar years) being older than the uncalibrated dates (in C14 years).The pioneer work in this respect is Oddmunn Farbregd’s book on Iron Age and Medieval arrow chronology from 1972, based on the finds from the Oppdal Mountains in Norway.However, most of the finds from the ice cannot be dated by typology.

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