As explained below, the radiocarbon date tells us when the organism was alive (not when the material was used).
This fact should always be remembered when using radiocarbon dates.
He said the find is significant to our national history, as it was the only burial site using shell mounds.
He said besides the three-bone find on Monday, his team also found pottery and other earthenware which was likely used in a burial ceremony in the Neolithic period.
Mokhtar, who is Universiti Sains Malaysia’s (USM) Centre of Global Archaeological Research director, said besides human bones, bones of boars and deer were also found at the same site before.
During incineration, the apatite not only loses carbon but will also exchange carbon with the carbon dioxide in the pyre's atmosphere.
In most cases, this will not result in an erroneous age, but exceptions do occur.
According to Mokhtar, there were three shell mounds in Guar Kepah, all of which were cleared for archaeological work by the British in 1851.
“Last Friday, we sent three samples of siput cengkerang and charcoal to the Beta Analytic Radiocarbon Dating Lab in Miami, Florida.
Unfortunately, due to exchange mechanisms, the carbon in the apatite can be replaced by carbon with a different age.
Incineration changes the crystallinity of the bone resulting in a protection against this exchange mechanism.
“By Wednesday, we will get to determine the actual age of the findings,” he told reporters at a press conference at the site today.