I created this article to compile a list of the carbon dates which have been “completely out of date”. The title is based on this quote which has made its way around the internet quite a bit:
“C14 was being discussed at a symposium on the prehistory of the Nile Valley. A famous American collegue, Professor Brew, briefly summarized a common attitude among archeologists towards it as follows:
“If a C14 date supports our theories, we put it in the main text. If it does not entirely contradict them, we put it in a foot-note. And if it is completely ‘out of date,’ we just drop it”.”
Säve-Söderbergh and Olsson (1970)[1, p.35]
I’ve seen this attributed to a number of different sources, but Säve-Söderbergh and Olsson (1970) is the earliest of them that I have seen.
The quote was found in Radiocarbon Variations and Absolute Chronology: Proceedings of the Twelfth Nobel Symposium Held at the Institute of Physics at Uppsala University, edited by Ingrid U. Olsson. This book was published in 1970, which was about 50 years ago. It’s 2021 now.
A symposium held at the Institute of Physics at Uppsala University sounds official enough on the surface of things but I wanted to know more about the two authors and what their qualifications were to be making such a claim as the one quoted above.
I have not read the book, I’ve only seen the small snippet available on Google Books. However, after some digging, I think I’ve discovered that the editor’s full name is Ingrid U. Olsson. WorldCat has a list of publications for this person and the book that the quote is cited from was included. The “Most widely held works by Ingrid U Olsson” are almost all dedicated to the topic of radiocarbon dating.
As for the other author, I think their full name is Torgny Säve-Söderbergh. He was a professor of Egyptology at Uppsala University from 1950 to 1980. He was a member of the Kungliga Vetenskapsakademien (Royal Swedish Academy of Science), the Kungliga Vitterhets Historie och Antikvitets Akademien (Royal History of Witness and Academy of Antiquities), the Kungliga Vetenskaps-Societeten i Uppsala (Royal Swedish Society of Science in Uppsala), the Kungliga Humanistiska Vetenskapssamfundet i Uppsala (Royal Society for the Humanities in Uppsala), and the Kungliga Vetenskapssamhället i Uppsala (Royal Swedish Society of Science). All-in-all, he appears to me to have been a distinguished academic who was in a position to make a claim such as the one quoted above. Not that reputation has any weight on the validity of a claim, but it is useful to know who is saying what.
In summary, to my knowledge, the two authors are Ingrid U. Olsson (1927-present?) and Torgny Säve-Söderbergh (1914-1998).
How often do dates come back that are way different than what was expected? Is the above quote true? How are we to track these ‘out of date’ dates if they just get dropped and not included in publications?
 – Säve-Söderbergh, T., and Ingrid U. Olsson. 1970. “C14 Dating and Egyptian Chronology.” In Radiocarbon Variations and Absolute Chronology: Proceedings of the Twelfth Nobel Symposium Held at the Institute of Physics at Uppsala University, edited by Ingrid U. Olsson, 35–55. Stockholm: Almquist & Wiksell. https://www.google.com/books/edition/Radiocarbon_Variations_and_Absolute_Chro/hnwuAAAAIAAJ?hl=en&gbpv=1&bsq=foot-note. Accessed 17 Apr. 2021.
 – WorldCat Identities. “Olsson, Ingrid U. 1927-“. http://worldcat.org/identities/lccn-n90678427/. Accessed 21 Aug. 2021.