Relative dating techniques in archaeology

In archaeology, dating techniques fall into two broad categories: chronometric (sometimes called “absolute”) and relative.

Chronometric dating techniques produce a specific chronological date or date range for some event in the past. Relative dating techniques, on the other hand, provide only the relative order in which events took place.

The date on a coin is an absolute date, as are AD 1492 or 501 in which the proportion of carbon isotopes is counted directly (as contrasted with the indirect Geiger counter method) using an accelerator mass spectrometer.

The method drastically reduces the quantity of datable material required.

This method is useful for archaeologists working in areas where volcanic eruptions have left layers of ash above and below an archaeological deposit.

The volcanic layers can be dated, and the archaeological material will date to the period between those two volcanic eruptions.

These processes result in All of these processes confuse the stratigraphic record.

All dating methods have limitations and can be complicated by turbation, or mixing, of layers by human or natural actions.Relative dating methods do not tell archaeologists exactly how old things are, but only how old things are relative to each other.Archaeologists work on the principle that objects at the bottom of an undisturbed were put there before objects that are above them, so objects found in the lower levels of a site are usually older than objects found in higher levels.However, the assumption of contemporaneity may not always be correct.This is due to the fact that one or both of the objects may have been moved or redeposited into a different location.

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SYNONYMS OR RELATED TERMS: amino-acid dating; aminostratigraphy; amino-acid racemization, amino acid racemization CATEGORY: technique DEFINITION: A method of absolute (chronometric) dating which is hoped to fill the gap between radiocarbon dates and potassium-argon dates.

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