Note: We are going to get five short blog posts from our Pack members from 14CHRONO in Queen's University Belfast, who will be doing all of our Viking dogs/wolves radiocarbon dating, bringing you all through the dating process once the dog bone samples arrive with them.
G. Barrett, N. O’Neill-Munro, K. Allen, J. Simpson from 14CHRONO, Belfast
In order to get a radiocarbon date from bone we like to start with a piece that is about 1g in size. The left hand side (below) shows a typical starting piece. This is already a very small quantity but is still about 1000 times bigger than what we have left by the end of our pretreatment (cleaning the sample), combustion (converting sample to CO2 gas), and graphitization (converting CO2 to graphite for our accelerator mass spectrometer (AMS)) stages. By the end of these steps we end up with about 1mg of carbon that then gets pressed into an aluminum target, bottom right (small black dot in center is the graphite!), that will be placed in our AMS to measure a radiocarbon age. And that’s how our sample goes from small to tiny!