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The unstable nature of carbon 14 (with a precise half-life that makes it easy to measure) means it is ideal as an absolute dating method.

The other two isotopes in comparison are more common than carbon-14 in the atmosphere but increase with the burning of fossil fuels making them less reliable for study (2); carbon-14 also increases, but its relative rarity means its increase is negligible. After this point, other Absolute Dating methods may be used.

Most readers appreciate the hard science, but many have struggled with the equations.

Their normal practice seems to have been to review the large quantities of tributary ware given to them, keeping what they wanted and redistributing the remainder as part of their lavish gifts to officials, temples, and foreign rulers, and perhaps also selling some.

The pieces are mostly fairly small, for drinking, use at a scholar's desk, incense burning, or as small containers.

To provide context for Part 4, below is a summary of the first three articles—all are available online. There are significant problems with radioisotope dating in general.

The critical closed-system assumption is not realistic—no system can remain unaffected by its environment over millions of years.

A notable physical difference between these metals is their density, with zirconium having about one-half the density of hafnium.