The date we are concerned with is
used to identify time and its passing.
What year is it?
• Provides the age of an artefact.
• Identifies the chronological order of the stages
of development of a site since its beginning.
• Chronology is the science of arranging past
events in the order that thy occurred.
Quick overview of dating
• Dating methods provide either “Absolute dates”
or Relative dates”.
• Absolute dating
• provides a specific date for the artefact – documents with
dates, coins, etc.
• Relative dating
• relative dating is based on the idea that an artifact is older or
younger in relation to something else.
• It only gives you a rough idea (approximation) of the date pottery sequences, an artefact found on the same strata as
artefacts that can be absolutely dated.
• Dating methods can be divided into three
• Relies on written
determine a time
about 3,500 BC is
requires one of the
other forms of
Attempts to establish the sequence
(chronology) of human occupation until recent
Stratigraphic, typology and seriation dating
are examples of archaeological method.
• Records the
sequence of a site
successive layers of
• Each layer (strata) is
a different time
• The deeper you find
an object the older
it should be.
• Placing similar objects in chronological order.
• Artefacts from each period have distinctive
• Sequence is determined by type and style –
from simple to complex.
SERIATION DATING, aka Flinders Petrie
• Form of typological
• Arranged all objects
from graves in
• Then arranged groups
of similar finds in a
succession or serial
Using scientific tests on objects to determine
their age, it is often more precise and accurate
than other traditional methods.
Two examples of scientific methods are Radio
Carbon 14 dating and tree ring dating.
• C-14 dates organic material
between 400 years ago to 5,000
• All things living absorb Carbon14, a radioactive isotope of carbon.
• The C-14 starts to decay after
death at a constant rate.
• The radioactive emissions of
carbon can be measured so the
time of death can be deduced.
• This applies to all organic materials
paper, leather, bone, pollen, blood
residues, resins, wood, peat, hair, s
An introduction to Carbon Dating
Tree ring dating:
• Dendrochronology is the
dating of past events
through the study of tree
• Generally each year the
tree grows is marked by a
• Each growth ring (thickness) reflects the climate
conditions of that year.
• Working backwards with modern timber it is
possible using overlapping sequences to determine
the age of ancient timber structures.
Three Age System
• Archaeological method based ancient
• Stone (early, middle, late)
• Bronze (early, middle, late)
• Iron (early, middle, late)
(aka T L dating)
In a no more than a half page explain what this
scientific method measures and how this
provides a date.
• TL dating measures inorganic material such as
pottery. It is more accurate than typology and
can date material up to 35,000 (some believe
200,000) years old.
• There is a small amount radiation in the
crystal structure of rocks. With decay small
amount radiation is released freeing electrons.
These electrons are released and therefore
measured if heated.