Dating methods used in archaeology

6854933580_2c8b688306_z

Typological dating may foster the tendency to assume that each step in development is of about the same time length, but this does not need to be the case in reality.

All living organic materials contain Carbon-14 atoms in a constant number.

C-14 dates are often published as dates 'before present' (the 'present' was fixed for analytical reasons at a single point, and the year AD 1950 was chosen for this) with the indication of the inaccuracy.

Thus, 3700 Tree-ring dating: Most trees produce a ring of new wood each year, visible as circles when looking at the cross section of a piece of wood.

After the 'death' of these organic materials the Carbon-14 atoms decay. Therefore it is possible to measure the number of these atoms in organic materials to obtain quantified information on the date of an item.

The method has a margin of accuracy of several hundred years and it is therefore not useful to fix dates in historic periods, but very useful for prehistory (in Egypt before 3000 BC).

However, we do not even know the number of kings for all periods, and there is also the possibility that reigns overlapped by coregency or in times of political disunity.

Stratigraphy is the oldest of the relative dating methods that archaeologists use to date things.

Stratigraphy is based on the law of superposition--like a layer cake, the lowest layers must have been formed first.

On the one level, events and individuals are placed in an absolute chronology: the exact years and sometimes even months and days of the events and biographies are known.

On the other level, the exact years may not be known, but it is known that one feature is earlier or later in relation to another; this is typically the case on an excavation, where the different archaeological strata allow objects found to be placed in a relative historical framework.

In other words, artifacts found in the upper layers of a site will have been deposited more recently than those found in the lower layers.

You must have an account to comment. Please register or login here!