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Reimer and colleagues point out that Int Cal13 is just the latest in calibration sets, and further refinements are to be expected.

For example, in Int Cal09's calibration, they discovered evidence that during the Younger Dryas (12,550-12,900 cal BP), there was a shutdown or at least a steep reduction of the North Atlantic Deep Water formation, which was surely a reflection of climate change; they had to throw out data for that period from the North Atlantic and use a different dataset.

Radiocarbon dating is one of the best known archaeological dating techniques available to scientists, and the many people in the general public have at least heard of it.

But there are many misconceptions about how radiocarbon works and how reliable a technique it is.

It was the first absolute scientific method ever invented: that is to say, the technique was the first to allow a researcher to determine how long ago an organic object died, whether it is in context or not.

Shy of a date stamp on an object, it is still the best and most accurate of dating techniques devised.

The half-life of an isotope like C14 is the time it takes for half of it to decay away: in C14, every 5,730 years, half of it is gone.

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For dates that are both important and contentious, it is usual to employ a number of laboratories for samples from the same source in an effort to reduce bias.

Then, scholars playing mind games will get a late-BCE date and place the manuscripts as BCE, when all they have is the date a herd of goats was killed, and the resultant manuscripts were written decades later, CE.

They will also take the date range, say 70–90 BCE, and use only the 70.

What you need is a ruler, a reliable map to the reservoir: in other words, an organic set of objects that you can securely pin a date on, measure its C14 content and thus establish the baseline reservoir in a given year.

Fortunately, we do have an organic object that tracks carbon in the atmosphere on a yearly basis: tree rings.

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