Advantages of relative dating techniques in archaeology

Understanding exactly what information is actually obtained using dating methods is crucial for evaluating their application to diverse archaeological problems and contexts.Factors that impact the meaning of archaeological dates are discussed.A brief review of the history of archaeological dating is then presented, followed by a description and appraisal of the different dating techniques used in archaeology.Seriation, also called artifact sequencing, is an early scientific method of relative dating, invented (most likely) by the Egyptologist Sir William Flinders Petrie in the late 19th century.Before this, archaeologists and scientists relied on deductive dating methods, such as comparing rock strata formations in different regions.Chronometric dating has advanced since the 1970s, allowing far more accurate dating of specimens.However, the more dating methods we can use, the more likely it is that our timeframe will be reliable.Any dating method is 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).

Absolute dating techniques were not available to him (radiocarbon dating wasn't invented until the 1940s); and since they were separately excavated graves, stratigraphy was no use either.Petrie's notions about Egyptology, and archaeology in general, were revolutionary.His worrying about where a pot came from and what period it dated to and what that meant to the other objects buried with it were light-years away from the ideas represented in this photo dated to 1800, in which "Egyptian pots" was considered enough information for the thinking man.Archaeologists must depend on their experience to guide them as to the most effective use of resources in selecting their dating methods.Often, this only becomes clear at the post-excavation stage.

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