Radiocarbon dating of St James and St Philip relics

Reading the newspaper this morning, an article with the title: Worshipped dead in Rome were not apostles, caught my interest.

The story was about the scientific examination of the relics of two of Jesus’ disciples worshipped for fifteen hundred years in the Basilica dei Santi XII Apostoli in Rome, St Philip and St James, the brother of the Lord. Both are said to have died in the second half of the first century AD.

However, the author stated with enthusiasm that the relics very clearly were not from the apostles but from other persons living a long time later, because in a recent study a radiocarbon date between 214 and 340 AD (2σ confidence) was obtained from one of the bones kept in the reliquary.

Now, on the contrary, this radiocarbon date is very good news for us and for all who were convinced that these relics really are from the two apostles. This is because Jesus and his disciples are historically dated in Western Roman Empire contexts as living around the time of Emperor Augustus and his immediate successors. Having postulated that Western Roman history is conventionally dated too old by 232 years, we generally would expect organic samples like bone collagen from that time to produce calibrated radiocarbon dates more than two hundred years younger than conventional dates. And in this case, with a secure provenience of the sample material, we find just that. In other words, if the persons died around year 70 in Western Roman context, we would expect a radiocarbon date centered around 300 AD which actually is what we find. Otherwise our hypothesis would be in trouble.

Another of our studies involved dendrochronologically-dated Western Roman timber which produced radiocarbon dates more than 150 years younger than conventional dates.

Our new Egyptian suite of articles has been continued with part 2 and 3.

Using modern astronomical parameters and based on handed-down dates for "days of the Feast of the New Moon", we propose the exact accession years for two Egyptian New Kingdom pharaohs: -1497 for Thutmose III, and -1297 for Rameses II. These accession dates comply well with recent radiocarbon dates.

We also include some remarks about the eight years adjustment of the radiocarbon calibration curve (Intcal) which we have applied in our Egyptological studies. As it appears just now, this eventuality seems to be at least detected - but not yet acknowledged - in recent academic research.

Read part 2 here.

The rock-cut Great Temple at Abu Simbel in Nubia built by Rameses II has been associated with the royal jubilee of the pharaoh. Based on our proposed accession year -1297, we can demonstrate that the first few jubilees of the king would have been celebrated when the traditional civil date for the festival (V Tybi 1) coincided with the climax of the autumnal lightshow at Abu Simbel. We regard this coincidence as a proof that we indeed have identified the absolute (astronomical) year for Rameses II's accession.

Read part 3 here.

Now we start a new suite of articles under the heading "Towards an absolute scientific date for the Egyptian New Kingdom". Part 1 takes a closer look at the Egyptian civil calendar and its primary sources to see if this provides useful understanding for the Egyptian chronology. Scientific dates for e.g. the Egyptian New Kingdom do still not comply fully with the historical consensus chronology in force. This might be due to the lingering use of outdated scientific parameters, perhaps because of historical bias at Egypt's transition from sovereign kingdom to Roman province.

Read the article here.

Our new article is about the historical consequences of our scientifically reinforced hypothesis that the West-Roman empire is conventionally dated some 232 years too old. We offer an alternative interpretation of some Roman heirlooms retrieved from the grave of the Frankish king Childeric, and from a Japanese grave dated to the late 5th century.

Read all about it here.

Our new article is about a rarity: radiocarbon dates of timbers archaeologically anchored in West-Roman time which are also dated by dendrochronology. The surprising but apparent trend is that the radiocarbon dates are a large number of years younger than the dendro dates. This strongly supports our hypothesis that West-Roman history and archaeology are conventionally dated too old by more than two hundred years, and that European dendrochronology was adapted to this error already in its early period.

Read our new article here.

In a new article in Dendrochronologia, Andreas Rzepecki with co-authors lift the lid on Ernst Hollstein's weak bridge over the Roman gap in the Central European oak chronology. This issue has been taboo since the bridge was accepted by academia. However, the authors do not deliver any scientific proof for their assertion that the bridge is still valid.

Our analysis shows that the generally used confidence levels for dendrochronological matches are still far too low to point out an unambiguous synchronous position. And in cases when a strong confidence level can not be reached with dendrochronology, the use of less resolved methods like radiocarbon, or even worse historical considerations, is still regarded an adequate procedure.

Read our new article Response to Rzepecki et al., "Missing link in Late Antiquity? A critical examination of Hollstein’s Central European Oak Chronology".

We empirically demonstrate that acceptance thresholds for a dendrochronological cross-match of at least t=6 for oak and at least t=7 for pine are required when constructing independent tree-ring master chronologies. These thresholds are far above the "thresholds for significant matches" of t=3.5 or t=4 adopted forty years ago, which are still regarded appropriate for the dating of archaeological samples. We also validate the supra-long Scots pine chronologies from northern Scandinavia using these tightened criteria and our crossdating software CDendro.

The Finnish and Swedish pine chronologies were built by two concurrent teams of scientists working with wood from different places and with different methods. Both teams arrived at the same conclusion regarding the overall dendro signal for the past 7500 years. Our reassessment confirms this conclusion, and demonstrates that both teams worked on a firm level of confidence when accepting dendrochronological matches. This validation is vital for the credibility of our hypothesis about general errors in the European oak masters, errors which were probably caused by using pre-dating with other methods in cases when sufficient dendrochronological confidence levels could not be reached.

Read more here.

Cosmic abrupt radionuclide enrichment events provide a new exciting possibility for the exact dating and synchronization of organic samples or annually resolved sequences of organic samples using 14C measurement. Ice cores can be synchronized to the same events using 10Be measurement instead. The two globally assured events in 775 and 994 have already proved the worth of this concept.
We propose that a third event has been spotted between -2467 and -2465 in bristlecone pine, perhaps together with another event ten years later between -2457 and -2455. By detecting that double-event in wood from the Belfast Long chronology it would be possible to once and for all time determine a definitive date for this European key oak chronology. We also propose that Belfast Long has to be dated eight years earlier than conventionally assumed. This small offset would have far-reaching consequences for the internal linkage of the entire Belfast chronology, and moderate consequences for the radiocarbon calibration curve.

Read more here.

The Eastern Alpine Conifer Chronology is clearly synchronized with the European oak chronologies over the recent 2500 years, thus confirming the long established dendrochronological bridge over the "Roman gap" which we dispute. We claim that the European timber complex archaeologically anchored in Roman time is conventionally dated too old by 218 years. But as the raw measurement data of the Alpine chronology is unpublished and unavailable we can not check whether our hypothesis is wrong, or the chronology is in error. However, some "outliers" in data derived from the chronology seem to tilt the scales in our favor.

Read more here.

Having postulated that the Christian era was inflated with 232 years already when it was invented at the transition from Late Antiquity to Early Medieval time, we were now looking for possible "twin events" with 232 years interval. These are major incisive events which were dated or reported multiple times in different historical contexts so that it seems that they happened twice.

In our new research paper, we discuss the onset of the first plague pandemic and the destruction of the ancient city of Petra in Jordan. Both events are related to the development of Christianity within the Roman empire, which becomes a much more dynamic process with our hypothesis of a drastically reduced Late Antiquity, distinguished as a period of clustered natural catastrophes.

Read more here.