Carbon Dating Mollusks, Seals, Trees, & Other Material. Also Criticizing Methodology

This article contains my analysis of Fomenko’s History: Fiction or Science?, Volume 1, Chapter 1, Part 15.1.2. Chapter 1.15 is titled “ARE RADIOCARBON DATINGS TO BE TRUSTED?”, part 1.15.1 is titled “the medieval datings of ancient, mediaeval, and modern specimens are scattered chaotically”, and part is titled “A criticism of the application of the radiocarbon method to historical specimens”.

Total: 13
Supported: 9
Contradicted: 3
Undetermined: 1

Total Determined: 12/13 (92.3%)
Total Supported: 9/12 (75%)
Total contradicted: 3/12 (25%)

As of right now, Fomenko’s grade on this part is 75% (9/12), which is a C.[5]

Fomenko’s overall grade is shown on the overview article: Examining Fomenko’s New Chronology.


The Examination

Claim 1:

“According to L. S. Klein, the radiocarbon datings “…have confused the archaeologists greatly. Some of them were characteristically overzealous… to follow the advice of the physicists… These archaeologists hastened to reconstruct the chronological schemes [which implies they aren’t constructed firmly enough – A. F.]… The first archaeologist to have opposed the radiocarbon method was Vladimir Miloicic, who… attacked the practical usage of radiocarbon datings, as well as… criticising the very theoretical foundation of the physical method sharply and bitterly… The comparison of the individual measurements of modern specimens with their average value allowed Miloicic to support his scepticism with a series of brilliant paradoxes.
The shell of a living American mollusc has the radioactivity index of 13.8 as compared to the average value of 15.3, which makes it 1200 years old. A live North African wild rose flower with the radioactivity of 14.7 has been dead for 360 years, according to the physicists… as for the Australian eucalyptus with a radioactivity of 16.31, it isn’t likely to exist anywhere in the next 600 years. A shell from Florida with a value of 17.4 shall only appear in 1080 years…
Since in the past radioactivity hasn’t been spread any more evenly than it is now, similar fluctuations and errors may afflict ancient objects as well. A prime example is the result of the radiocarbon dating of a mediaeval altar fragment in Heidelberg… which showed that the wood used for the repair of the altar hadn’t existed at that time… In the Iranian Welt cavern the lowest layers have been dated to 6054 b.c. (give or take 415 years) and 6595 (give or take 500 years) before Christ, whilst the layer on top was dated as 8610 b.c., give or take 610 years. The upper layer is thus 2556 years older than the lower, which is clearly an impossibility. There is a vast number of similar examples…” ([391], pages 94-95)”

Claim 1 is supported. The above quote is almost the same as the passage found in Kleyn’s article.[3] I think the variations are due to the translations between Russian and English.

Potentially more points could be added to this claim for each case mentioned.

Claim 2:

“Thus, the radiocarbon dating method can only be used for the approximate datings of objects whose age amounts to dozens of millennia, when the error rate is comparable with the actual specimen age reaching one-two or more thousand years.”

Claim 2 is contradicted. It is supported based on the previous quote, but there are examples of items less than a thousand, even less than 500 years old, being carbon dated. These examples also have error margins of less than 1000-2000 years, sometimes as small as under 100 years plus or minus the carbon date.

Here’s an article about carbon dating manuscripts less than 700 years old:

I think that article is from 2010, so it could be a newer development that wasn’t around when Fomenko published this in 2003.


Claim 3:

Live molluscs have been dated with the radiocarbon method, and proved to be 2300 years old as a result, which is perfectly preposterous (q.v. in Science magazine, No. 130, dated 11 December 1959). The radiocarbon dating deviation amounts to twenty-three hundred years here.”

Claim 3 is contradicted and supported. The citation is incorrect, which merits a contradicted point for Claim 3. The claim about the mollusks being 2300 years old is supported, but it’s somewhat selective and doesn’t give a full picture of the referenced study. Fomenko selected the most extreme variation and did not mention the other results that dated mollusks to 40, 125, 155, 300, 440, 1010, 1733, and 1890 years old (excluding error margins). The results still show issues with carbon dating but I don’t think Fomenko was as honest as he could have been about the results.

Here’s a link to Fomenko’s citation, Science magazine, No. 130, 11 Dec. 1959:
Here’s a link to what Fomenko was really citing, Science magazine, No. 141, 16 Aug. 1964:

Claim 4:

“A few more examples of relatively recent radiocarbon datings made around 1970-1971:
1) No. 225 of Nature magazine dated 7 March, 1970 reports the results of analyzing the C-14 content of organic material contained in the mortar of an English castle which is known to have been built 738 years ago. The radiocarbon dating gave the age of 7370 years as a result, being 6500 years off the mark. The radiocarbon dating deviation amounts to six millennia and a half. One wonders whether there was any point in quoting decades with such precision.”

Claim 4 is supported and supported. I give two points to Claim 4 because the citation was correct and the information was (mostly) correct. The castle was reportedly built 785 years ago, not 738. It’s close enough so I grant it as valid.

I wanted to share some more information from this article. There were samples from the London Tower, Hampton Court, Orford Castle, Conway Town Hall, and Carlisle Castle. Hampton Court had two samples and Carlisle Castle had three. The Orford Castle result is the one Fomenko mentioned and it’s by far the result with the largest error.

Here are the results by smallest to largest error, excluding the error margins. The true age is followed by the carbon age:

These results further go to contradict Fomenko’s Claim 2. Although none of the results were correct, not all of them were over a thousand years off the mark. This does make me suspicious that Fomenko purposefully ignored this information to try and mislead people. Alternatively, it makes me wonder if Fomenko even read the paper or if someone else shared with him the information. If he did read it, I don’t think he comprehended the contents.

“Of the seven samples dated, six produced 14C ages significantly older than the true ages…”
Baxter & Walton (1970)[p.937]

Nature No. 225:

Claim 5:

“2) The radiocarbon analysis of seals that have just been shot defined their age as 1300 years, i.e. dating mistake of 1300 years. The seals mummified 30 years ago have been dated as 4600 years old, i.e. dating mistake of 4570 years. Quote from the Antarctic Journal of the United States, No. 6, 1971.”

Claim 5 is contradicted, supported, and supported.

Claim 5 gets 3 points for the amount of information included. Although he did include mostly accurate information, I think Fomenko left out some noteworthy info. The seals had ages ranged between 615 to 4600 years old. The mummified remains were believed to be no more than 20 to 30 years old, which I note here because it offers a more complete picture, and it shows even greater discrepancies than the picture offered by Fomenko.[4]

I marked the first one of the points as contradicted because the claim about the 1300 year old seals is somewhat incorrect. The original report says it was just one seal, not multiple seals. I think saying seals is misleading but the reason for this inaccuracy is unclear (translation issue? purposeful exaggeration?). Additionally, there was a different seal, this one from Lake Bonney, known to be dead for less than a month, gave the age of 615 ± 100 years.[4]


Claim 6:

“The examples given show that radiocarbon dating can deem the specimens thousands of years older than they really are.”

Claim 6 is supported.

Claim 7:

“As we have seen, there are examples of the opposite, when the specimen is dated as belonging to the distant future.”

Claim 7 is supported. This is based on the information in Claim 1.

Claim 8:

“One shouldn’t wonder about radiocarbon analysis making mediaeval objects fabulously old.”

Claim 8 is undetermined. I think this really comes down to a matter of opinion. I’m tempted to negate the point here due to its subjectivity.

Claim 9:

“Let us return to L. S. Klein’s review. He writes that:
“Miloicic suggests to cease the tendentious “critical” editing of the radiocarbon datings, which is constantly done by the physicists, and calls upon their patrons the archaeologists to do away with the “critical” censorship that axes the publishing of the complete result. He appeals to both physicists and archaeologists to publish all of the results of their research without filtering out the dates that strike them as improbable. He also tries to convince the archaeologists to stop the practice of familiarizing the physicists with the age of the finding, and not giving them any figures until they publish theirs! Otherwise, after such editing which reflects the private viewpoints of the researchers themselves, the dating is bound to be subjective, so the study of the concurrence between historical and radiocarbon datings becomes impossible. Thus, in Groningen, where the archaeologist Becker had been a supporter of the short [European – A. F.] chronology, radiocarbon datings are usually recent, whereas in Schleswig and Heidelberg, where Schwabedissen and others have been proponents of the longer version of chronology, these datings are usually a lot more ancient.” ([391], pages 94-95)”

Claim 9 is supported. Kleyn’s article did state that.[3]

Claim 10:

“We may be told that the radiocarbon method may have attained a higher level of precision in the last couple of years. This may be true concerning the theory and the actual measurements. The question is, however, whether these improved methods are used in modern archaeological practice, and if so, what results are obtained in this manner. Do the new radiocarbon datings concur with the Scaligerian chronology?”

Claim 10 is undetermined and I’m not counting it as a point. It’s not really making any claims. To answer the question though, I do think there have been applications in archeology and the dates sometimes concur and sometimes don’t. I don’t know of any statistics about the hits and misses.



[1] –

[2] –

[3] – Kleyn, L. S, Arkheologiya sporit s fizikoy – Spor o dostovernosti i tochnosti radiouglerodnoy khronologii [Archeology argues with physics – The controversy over the reliability and accuracy of radiocarbon chronology]: Priroda. no. 2. p.51-62, and no. 3. p.94-107, illus., 1966. Accessed 23 Mar. 2021.

[4] – Wakefield, Dort, Jr., 1971. Mummified seals of southern Victoria Land. Antarctic Journal 6(5): 210-211. Accessed 27 Mar. 2021.

[5] – Accessed 27 Mar. 2021.

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