Methods of dating archaeology

But this method is also useful in many other disciplines. Historians, for example, know that Shakespeare's play Henry V was not written before because Shakespeare's primary source for writing his play was the second edition of Raphael Holinshed 's Chronicles , not published until That means that the play was without fail written after in Latin, post The same inductive mechanism is applied in archaeology, geology and paleontology, by many ways. For example, in a stratum presenting difficulties or ambiguities to absolute dating, paleopalynology can be used as a relative referent by means of the study of the pollens found in the stratum.

The various dating techniques available to archaeologists

This is admitted because of the simple reason that some botanical species, whether extinct or not, are well known as belonging to a determined position in the scale of time. For a non-exhaustive list of relative dating methods and relative dating applications used in geology, paleontology or archaeology, see the following:. Absolute dating methods, by using absolute referent criteria, mainly include the radiometric dating methods. Same as geologists or paleontologists , archaeologists are also brought to determine the age of ancient materials, but in their case, the areas of their studies are restricted to the history of both ancient and recent humans.

Thus, to be considered as archaeological, the remains, objects or artifacts to be dated must be related to human activity.

Chronological dating

It is commonly assumed that if the remains or elements to be dated are older than the human species, the disciplines which study them are sciences such geology or paleontology, among some others. Nevertheless, the range of time within archaeological dating can be enormous compared to the average lifespan of a singular human being.

As an example Pinnacle Point 's caves, in the southern coast of South Africa , provided evidence that marine resources shellfish have been regularly exploited by humans as of , years ago. It was the case of an 18th-century sloop whose excavation was led in South Carolina United States in Dating material drawn from the archaeological record can be made by a direct study of an artifact , or may be deduced by association with materials found in the context the item is drawn from or inferred by its point of discovery in the sequence relative to datable contexts.

Dating is carried out mainly post excavation , but to support good practice, some preliminary dating work called "spot dating" is usually run in tandem with excavation.

Dating is very important in archaeology for constructing models of the past, as it relies on the integrity of dateable objects and samples. Many disciplines of archaeological science are concerned with dating evidence, but in practice several different dating techniques must be applied in some circumstances, thus dating evidence for much of an archaeological sequence recorded during excavation requires matching information from known absolute or some associated steps, with a careful study of stratigraphic relationships.

In addition, because of its particular relation with past human presence or past human activity, archaeology uses almost all the dating methods that it shares with the other sciences, but with some particular variations, like the following:.


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Seriation is a relative dating method see, above, the list of relative dating methods. An example of a practical application of seriation, is the comparison of the known style of artifacts such as stone tools or pottery. The stratigraphy of an archaeological site can be used to date, or refine the date, of particular activities "contexts" on that site.

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For example, if a context is sealed between two other contexts of known date, it can be inferred that the middle context must date to between those dates. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.


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    Dating in Archaeology | The Canadian Encyclopedia

    Dating methods are the means by which archaeologists establish chronology. The more dating methods we use to construct a chronology, the more likely it is that the chronology will be reliable.

    The most universal dating method in archaeology is a relative dating method: At it simplest, this means recognising an artefact or structure as belonging to a known type of a particular date. Where there is a significant number of these associations, the dating information they give us becomes more reliable - individual cases can be misleading - artefacts, for instance, may be residual belonging to an earlier period but present in a later context due to redeposition.

    The more associations we have, the easier it is to see such problems in the evidence, and therefore the more likely the site chronology is to be correct. All of these have two things in common: Firstly they are only possible when the right sort of material is present for example, there is no possibility of using radiocarbon or dendrochronology when there is no organic matter or preserved wood available ; secondly, they are all comparatively expensive to carry out and the results may not provide the kind of answer that the archaeologist is trying to find.



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