Archaeologists use many different techniques to determine the age of a particular artifact, site, or part of a site.Two broad categories of dating or chronometric techniques that archaeologists use are called relative and absolute dating.It is increasingly difficult for prehistorians working in the twenty-first century to conceptualise the problems experienced by their predecessors, and approaches to interpretation before the 1960s are consistently criticised.Culture history and diffusionism may - with hindsight - seem excessively preoccupied with classification and social evolution, and to have applied unsophisticated historical interpretations instead of asking fundamental questions about human behaviour.For example, JJA Worsaae used this law to prove the Three Age System.For more information on stratigraphy and how it is used in archaeology, see the Stratigraphy glossary entry.The scholar most associated with the rules of stratigraphy (or law of superposition) is probably the geologist Charles Lyell.
Petrie used sequence dating to work back from the earliest historical phases of Egypt into pre-dynastic Neolithic times, using groups of contemporary artefacts deposited together at a single time in graves.
The absolute dating method first appeared in 1907 with Lord Rutherford and Professor Boltwood at Yale University, but wasn’t accepted until the 1950s.
The first method was based on radioactive elements whose property of decay occurs at a constant rate, known as the half-life of the isotope.
Archaeological Dating Methods introduces students to many of the more common dating methods used or found in related literature.
Most of the summarized dating methods may not be used with regularity in the field, but individuals should be informed about their existence, usefulness, and sample collection methods.