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If a sample to be carbon-dated is wrapped in a piece of paper, will you still be able to effectively measure the radioactivity of the sample?

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closed as unclear what you're asking by MaxW, aventurin, Zhe, A.K., Jon Custer Oct 23 '18 at 22:25

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  • $\begingroup$ Need more info. Can you take it out of the paper? Does the paper have the same age as the sample? $\endgroup$ – Zhe Oct 23 '18 at 20:25
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Hardly, with or without paper wrap.

Most of the radiation will be absorbed by the sample itself, you'll have a hard time modelling the absorption to derive the actual remaining activity of the carbon. Artifacts are usually not a piece of completely homogeneous material. Also you'll have a hard time finding anyone with a suitable Geiger counter, if you want to do more than guesswork.)

Modern radiocarbon methods are destructive, you take a number of tiny (<1 mg), representative samples out of your artifact, and directly do mass spectrometry on them, without waiting for radioactive decay.

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