Carbon dating is reliable within certain parameters but certainly not infallible.
Radiocarbon dating can’t tell the difference between wood that was cut and immediately used for the spear, and wood that was cut years before being re-used for that purpose.
Nor can it tell if a much older spearhead was attached to a brand-new shaft.
Most archaeological items can’t be directly carbon dated, so their dating is based on testing done on nearby objects or materials.
This makes the results subject to the researchers’ assumptions about those objects.
If the spear head is dated using animal bones nearby, the accuracy of the results is entirely dependent on the assumed link between the spear head and the animal.
This is perhaps the greatest point of potential error, as assumptions about dating can lead to circular reasoning, or choosing confirming results, rather than accepting a “wrong” date.
Second, radiocarbon dating becomes more difficult, and less accurate, as the sample gets older.
Question: "Is carbon dating a reliable method for determining the age of things?
" Answer: Carbon dating, or radiocarbon dating, like any other laboratory testing technique, can be extremely reliable, so long as all of the variables involved are controlled and understood.