Absolute dating techniques anthropology

The oldest newspaper will be on the bottom, the remainder stacked in relative chronological order from the oldest to the latest edition.

This is the concept of --or the Law of Superposition.

Dating methods in archaeology establish the time and sequence of events that created archaeological deposits and layers, called strata, within those deposits. Absolute dating relies on biological, chemical (radiometric), geological/electromagnetic, or historical investigation to obtain the date range of a deposit.

(Examples of each method, respectively, are dendrochronology, carbon-14, archaeomagnetism, and the known year a city was destroyed.) Relative dating is based on stratigraphy (the tendency of younger layers to lie over older layers) and comparison of artifacts from undated sites to sites where dates are established.

Stratigraphic sequences in the field, however, are sometimes unreliable.

Suppose the inhabitants of a previous site dug a large hole.

Exercises: Level I (earliest): pictures of fire blackened rocks in a rough circle suggesting a hearth; scattered stone tools; and scattered animal bones and fruit pits.

The time line generated by your students will introduce them to the important concept of stratigraphy, as well as to the goal of archaeology: to reconstruct past lifeways and place them in a chronological framework in order to better understand the present. This technique dates a site based on the relative frequency of types of artifacts whose dates of use or manufacture are known. The kinds of questions they should ask are: Is it made of wood, paper, cloth, metal, pottery? Is it for personal care, decoration, or amusement, or does it have a utilitarian purpose? Were the materials used in its manufacture from the local area or from far away? The categories for classification will be suggested by the objects in the assemblage. The basic assumption underlying seriation is that the popularity of culturally produced items [such as clay pipes or obelisk gravestone markers in America] varies through time, with a frequency pattern that has been called the "battleship curve." An item is introduced, it grows in popularity, then its use begins to wane as it is replaced by another form. Are there any patterns apparent in the objects the students have brought to class? Certain types of artifacts have been identified as particularly useful temporal markers, for example, gravestones, projectile points, lamps, pottery sherds. On beaches, where the configuration of the shoreline has changed through time, the earliest site may be inland, the later site closest to shore.The stratigraphic levels would then be spatially horizontal, conforming to the changing coastline.

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