ANT 101H5S January 10 2011
Archaeology: Dating Methods
questions to ask- when ? Why used ?
How does it work ?
What considerations ?
Limitations of the method ?
- involves ordering artifacts into sequences relative to each other
strata=deeper in to earth, goback through time.
Law of superposition=1 layer lies on top of the other, so that the layer at the bottom is the oldest
• Fluorine & Uranium Dating-relative.doesnt give absolute date.
• Typological sequencinig
• Palynology (pollen dating)
• Palentology (faunal dating)
The study of stratification
• Artifacts are deposited into layers – strata
• Law of Superposition: one layer lies on top of the other, so that the layer at the bottom is the
oldest (i.e. deposited first)
Fluorine & Uranium Dating
Method for the relative dating of bones
• Bones in the ground absorb fluorine & uranium from the ground H O 2
look at # of F & U, therefore one bone is older than another depending on the # of F & U found.
Older bones have more f and u.
• cant say how old just <> than this that bone.
• Therefore, older bones have more fluorine & uranium
• limitations and disadvantages
site specific; environmentally variable
different amount of ground water
cant compare long distances
variable related to acidity.
Classification of artifacts into types
• Similar artifacts are grouped together- seriation.
• Relative dates are assigned to an artifact if it matches other artifacts already recognized within
a well established typological system
• limitations-regionally dependant.
Palynology (pollen dating)
Based of the relative dating of pollen grains
• All flowering plants produce pollen
• Fit pollen grains at a site to a broader zone sequence
go through vast regions,compare to pollen in area (pollen sequence)
ex : come earlier than the other. Palentology (faunal dating)
Based on the relative extinction of mammalian species
• Sequence of changing species -1 is older than the other.
• May be imprecise
relative relationship of different species based on rate of extinction.
2. Absolute Dating
- Designation of the age of an event, object or fossil in terms of solar years (absolute time)
• Calendar & historical chronologies-used in mass population written documents/chronology.
• Dendrochronology (tree ring dating)-wood objects, its pattern/# of rings in trees.
• Radiocarbon dating (C14)