Types of chronometric dating
Detailed studies of these fossils provide new insights into human evolution, such as the origin of locomotion and cultural activity, and the evolution of the brain, among many other complex features that have come to define humanity.Even during the time this manuscript was written, new hominid discoveries in Ethiopia and Kenya were announced that trace our earliest ancestors further back into the Pliocene.According to the Dictionary of Anthropology, the word chronology means the science of computing dates or treaties showing arrangement of events with dates.In other words, Chronology is the arrangement of events, or the materials which represent them, in the order of their occurrence in time.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.Chronometric Dating for the Archaeologist isn't bedtime reading, nor is it for the faint-of-heart, but at the same time one does not have to have a background in materials science or organic or inorganic chemistry to understand the basic premise of the work.The editors' goal is to present a factual, current, and well-documented evaluation of a dozen of the major techniques that are used by scientists to determine chronology from archaeological artifacts or contexts.
Archaeology is, indeed, one of the humanities (so-defined by the United States Congress in 1965), but it is also one that has borrowed paradigms, methods, and analytical techniques, and adopted analogies and inferences from many of the natural, physical, and social sciences, and the humanities.
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.
Cross-dating of sites, comparing geologic strata at one site with another location and extrapolating the relative ages in that manner, is still an important dating strategy used today, primarily when sites are far too old for absolute dates to have much meaning.
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.