Mummy Carbon Dating

An Egyptian mummy is carbon-dated and compared with a scroll found in the Dead Sea, which is known to be 2000 years old. The \(\ce{^{14}C} \text{ : } \ce{^{12}C}\) ratio of the mummy is found to be \(\frac{2}{3}\) that of the scroll. How old is the mummy (rounded to an integer number of years)?

Details and Assumptions:

  • \(\ce{^{14} C}\) is radioactive with a half-life of 6000 years (it decays into nitrogen). \(\ce{^{12} C}\) is a stable isotope, so the amount of \(\ce{^{12} C}\) in a sample remains constant over time.

  • The ratio \(\ce{^{14}C} \text{ : } \ce{^{12}C}\) in an organism (plant or animal) at the time of its death is equal to the ratio of the isotopes in the air it breathed in. This ratio can be assumed to be constant over time.

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