Dating methods in archaeology Adult wesites
Absolute dating, the ability to attach a specific chronological date to an object or collection of objects, was a breakthrough for archaeologists.Until the 20th century, with its multiple developments, only relative dates could be determined with any confidence.In 1901, Douglass began investigating tree ring growth as an indicator of solar cycles.Douglass believed that solar flares affected climate, and hence the amount of growth a tree might gain in a given year.And, outside of certain periods in our past, there simply were no chronologically dated objects, or the necessary depth and detail of history that would assist in chronologically dating civilizations.Without those, the archaeologists were in the dark as to the age of various societies. The use of tree ring data to determine chronological dates, dendrochronology, was first developed in the American southwest by astronomer Andrew Ellicott Douglass.Clark Wissler, an anthropologist researching Native American groups in the Southwest, recognized the potential for such dating, and brought Douglass subfossil wood from puebloan ruins.Unfortunately, the wood from the pueblos did not fit into Douglass's record, and over the next 12 years, they searched in vain for a connecting ring pattern, building a second prehistoric sequence of 585 years.
For detailed information about how seriation works, see Seriation: A Step by Step Description.The scholar most associated with the rules of stratigraphy (or law of superposition) is probably the geologist Charles Lyell.The basis for stratigraphy seems quite intuitive today, but its applications were no less than earth-shattering to archaeological theory.Since the turn of the century, several methods to measure elapsed time have been discovered.The first and simplest method of absolute dating is using objects with dates inscribed on them, such as coins, or objects associated with historical events or documents.
Increasingly better-defined methods of dating have radically enhanced our ability to address questions of cultural identity and ethnicity, as well as cultural change; an understanding of the primary methods that date the past is still critical to interpreting social process.