Dating techniques in archaeology
This exercise is designed to introduce you to basic techniques used in determining the age of archaeological materials and sites.There are two general categories of methods for dating in archaeology.One is Relative Dating, and the other is Absolute Dating.In general, archaeologists use both methods in conjunction.The methods used by archaeologists to gather data can be applied to any time period, including the very recent past. This “garbology” project proved that even recent artifacts can reveal a lot about the people who used and discarded them. has become known for his study of the garbage discarded by the people of Tuscon, Arizona in the 1970s!
These methods — some of which are still used today — provide only an approximate spot within a previously established sequence: Think of it as ordering rather than dating.Some of these include: fission-track dating, paleomagnetic and archaeomagnetic dating, obsidian hydration dating, and thermoluminescence dating.Many of these techniques are still experimental, or have not found wide acceptence in archaeology yet, hence they have not been discussed here.When it comes to determining the age of stuff scientists dig out of the ground, whether fossil or artifact, “there are good dates and bad dates and ugly dates,” says paleoanthropologist John Shea of Stony Brook University.The good dates are confirmed using at least two different methods, ideally involving multiple independent labs for each method to cross-check results.