Relative vs Absolute Dating. Dating is a technique used in archeology to ascertain the age of artifacts, fossils and other items considered to be valuable by archeologists. There are many methods employed by these scientists, interested in the old, to get to know the age of items. It is possible to tell the number of years ago a particular rock or archeological site had been formed. Two broad categories of classification methods are relative dating and absolute dating. Though using similar methods, these two techniques differ in certain ways that will be discussed in this article.
Archaeological Dating: Stratigraphy and Seriation
Introduction | Physical Geology
There are several dating methods that help archaeologists figure out how old objects are. In fact, there are so many that it would be impossible to describe them all in one article. Hence, this post will discuss some of the most widely-used dating methods — stratigraphy, typology, seriation, and radiocarbon dating — and we will cover the rest in subsequent articles. There are two overarching classes of dating methods: relative and absolute.
Archaeologists use many different techniques to determine the age of a particular artifact, site, or part of a site. Two broad categories of dating or chronometric techniques that archaeologists use are called relative and absolute dating. Stratigraphy is the oldest of the relative dating methods that archaeologists use to date things.
Absolute dating is the process of determining a specific date for an archaeological or palaeontological site or artifact. Some archaeologists prefer the terms chronometric or calendar dating, as use of the word "absolute" implies a certainty and precision that is rarely possible in archaeology. Absolute dating is usually based on the physical or chemical properties of the materials of artifacts, buildings, or other items that have been modified by humans. Absolute dates do not necessarily tell us when a particular cultural event happened, but when taken as part of the overall archaeological record they are invaluable in constructing a more specific sequence of events. Absolute dating contrasts with the relative dating techniques employed, such as stratigraphy.