Also, the larger the sample the better, although new techniques mean smaller samples can sometimes be tested more effectively.
The data can be a little off particularly in younger artifacts, and anything older than about 50,000 years is pretty much too old to be tested because at that point the majority of the C-14 has decayed to practically undetectable levels.
But carbon-14 is slightly radioactive: it will spontaneously decay into nitrogen-14 by emitting an anti-neutrino and an electron, with a half-life of 5730 years.
Two chert artifacts from the region near Luxor, Egypt have yielded concentrations of cosmogenic (super 10) Be that allow calculation of nominal exposure ages of 326,000 and 304,000 years.
Both artifacts are flakes that were collected atop limestone benches of the Eocene Thebes Formation which form cliffs along the west side of the Nile.
Here we propose several approaches to deconvolute the different exposure periods and better approximate the real age of the artifacts.
As there is no a priori reason that the two ages should agree with the typological ages of the artifacts, nor for the two independent ages to agree, these first results are especially exciting and intriguing.