The Lost Gospel
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Radiocarbon Dating

Radiocarbon, or C-14, testing establishes the age of codex to be nearly 1,700 years old.
Image courtesy National Geographic Television & Film

Since its first use in the 1940s radiocarbon dating has been the most accurate method of dating ancient objects and artifacts.

Radiocarbon, present in living organisms, decays at a constant rate in dead tissue. By measuring residual amounts of radiocarbon scientists can accurately date ancient specimens.

Accelerated Mass Spectrometry (AMS) is a specialized radiocarbon dating technique that allows scientists to date even very tiny pieces of material.

The National Geographic Society submitted five tiny samples of the Gospel of Judas for AMS testing at the University of Arizona's radiocarbon dating lab in Tucson—the same lab that dated the Dead Sea Scrolls.

The Judas fragments included four minute pieces of papyrus and a small bit of the book's leather binding with a piece of attached papyrus page.

No part of the ancient script was altered or damaged during this process.

The results allowed lab experts to confidently date the papyruses to between A.D. 220 and 340.

"The calibrated ages of the papyrus and leather samples are tightly clustered and place the age of the Codices within the third or fourth centuries A.D.," reported Tim Jull, director of Arizona's AMS facility, and research scientist Greg Hodgins.