Radiocarbon Dating

Radiocarbon dating of the papyrus

Radiocarbon testing of the Gospel of Jesus’s Wife fragment and a Coptic fragment of the Gospel of John was performed independently by Greg Hodgins at the University of Arizona NSF Accelerator Mass Spectrometry Laboratory (June-July, 2013) and by Noreen Tuross of Harvard University’s Department of Evolutionary Biology in conjunction with the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute (January-February, 2014).  Both resulted in an eighth century CE date for the Gospel of John fragment.  The first test of the GJW fragment resulted in a date between 405 to 209 BCE, but this date was regarded as unreliable due to an abbreviated cleaning process and other factors.  As a result, a second testing was done independently, which resulted in a date between 659 to 869 CE.

Great Basin Bristlecone Pine from the White Mountains, California
Great Basin Bristlecone Pine from the White Mountains, California. Photo by Karen L. King

Great Basin Bristlecone Pines are the oldest living trees on earth with living individuals more than 4000 years old.  They have aided in refining radiocarbon dating because their tree rings record the amount of carbon 14 in earth’s environment in a specific year.