Rather than dating associated materials when the age of an iron artefact is required, a date may be obtained from the carbon that the iron has incorporated from the smelting process. Large sample sizes have forestalled this method in the past; radiocarbon dating using accelerator mass spectrometry has reduced the sample size requirements to less than 5 mg carbon equivalent. Thus, only 10 g of wrought iron is needed, while for high carbon (2%) steel or cast iron, only 250 mg may be required. Two historical irons, dated at
the IsoTrace Laboratory, Toronto, illustrate the capabilities of this technique.
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