Archaeological Dating Methods

Archaeological Dating Methods introduces students to many of the more common dating methods used or found in related literature.  Most of the summarized dating methods may not be used with regularity in the field, but individuals should be informed about their existence, usefulness, and sample collection methods.

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Photograph showing stratigraphic layers in a cut bank.

Stratigraphy shown in a cut bank.

Photo by Kevin Black

Class Outline

  1. An Introduction to Archaeological Dating Methods
  2. Past & Present Trends in the Use of Dating Methods in Archaeology
  3. Dating Strategies
    1. Objectives in archaeological studies
    2. Explanation of relative and chronometric (absolute) dating
  4. Relative Dating Methods
    1. Stratigraphy
    2. Cross-dating
      1. non-cultural
      2. cultural
    3. Cultural trait correlation
      1. typology
      2. serration
    4. Chemical analysis of bone
      1. nitrogen test
      2. flourine test
      3. uranium test
  5. Chronometric Dating Methods
    1. Varve dating
    2. Dendrochronology
    3. Obsidian hydration
    4. Archaeomagnetic dating
    5. Thermoluminescence (TL)
    6. Radiocarbon (C-14)
    7. Potassium-Argon dating
    8. Cation ratio dating
    9. Miscellaneous methods