Explain the importance of the following dating methods: ( a ) wireless C dating, ( B ) K Ar dating, ( degree Celsius ) seriation, ( vitamin D ) stratigraphy.

Archeology can be defined as “the scientific survey of the human yesteryear, of ancient human behavior, from the earliest times right up to the present.” ( Fagan, 2006 ) .The survey of archeology as an academic subject is dependent on the truth of assorted dating methods. Dating methods in archeology can be divided into two groups: Relative dating methods and Absolute dating methods. Although the importance of the different dating methods may outweigh each other, the all are really of import to the survey of archeology as a whole. This essay shall concentrate on the importance of wireless C dating, K Ar dating, seriation and stratigraphy to the archeological survey.

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Accurate dating has ever been of importance to scientist and archaeologist likewise. In archeology dating can be categorised into comparative dating and absolute dating techniques. In traveling frontward explicate the importance of wireless C dating, K Ar dating, seriation and stratigraphy to the archeological survey, one must foremost understand the difference between comparative dating and absolute dating in archeology. Relative dating in archeology assumes the age of an artefact in relation and by comparing to other objects found in its environments. The manner of the artefact and its archeological location stratigraphically are required to get at a comparative day of the month. The bound to relative dating is that it can non supply an accurate twelvemonth or a specific day of the month of usage. Absolute dating on the other manus is the method of finding an approximate calculated age of an artefact in archeology. The end of archeologist is finally to cognize how old sequences, sites and artifacts are in calendar old ages. To carry through this absolute dating methods are used. From traditional historical methods to those which are based on the great assortment of modern scientific techniques presently available. As compared to relative dating which merely provides an order of events, absolute dating nowadayss archaeologists with a more deliberate rating of the object’s age.

The first country of treatment in understanding the different dating techniques in archeology would be stratigraphy. Harmonizing to Renfrew and Bahn, “stratigraphy is the survey of stratification- the puting down or depositing of strata one above the other.” ( Renfrew and Bahn 2008, 122 ) . This fundamentally involves telling things into sequences. A sequence of beds should supply a comparative chronological sequence from the earliest ( the underside bed ) to the latest ( top ) , as seen in figure one. It’s of import to observe that stratigraphy involves the Law of Superposition. Fagan describes the Law of Superposition as, “the impression that implicit in degrees are earlier than those that cover them.” ( Fagan 2009, 103 ) . He farther explains that the lower degrees are comparatively earlier than the ulterior strata, which is fundamentally entails. Scientific archeologists grasped at this instead rapidly, although it was n’t used as a consistent technique until around the bend of the 19th century. Since so, the technique has been refined, and tools such as the Harris Matrix aid in picking out the sometimes rather complicated and delicate sedimentations. The survey of stratigraphy on archeological sites was used in North America and Mesopotamia. The importance of stratigraphy is good and good but it still does non supply an accurate signifier of dating, it all involves guess. This is since as a ruin since archeological research strives in the most accurate signifier of apprehension of the past societies and civilizations.


Title: Stratification illustration

Beginning: pages.vassar.edu

The other archeological dating method to be discussed is seriation. Seriation is a really common signifier of archeological reading. Seriation is a signifier of comparative dating technique. With the premise that artefacts changed with ephemeral clip in extremist ways, archeologist usage seriation techniques to put artifacts in chronological order. Seriation is the changing of manner of an object over clip. Renfrew and Bahn explain that there are two versions of the seriation technique: contextual seriation and frequence seriation. Contextual seriation, besides called sequenced dating is where artifacts are arranged harmonizing to the frequences of their co- happening in specific context. In the 19th century Sir Flinders Petrie was the establishing male parent of this type of seriation. He used this method to set up order in big Egyptian Gravess. Frequency seriation on the other manus, was established by an American archeologist at a Mayan site in Yucatan 1940. The rule of frequence seriation relies preponderantly on mensurating alterations in the relative copiousness, or frequence of a ceramic manner. W.S. Robinson and G.W. Brainerd in their paper published in American Antiquity in 1951 hypostasised two statements about frequence seriation. “First, the assumed that clayware styles bit by bit become more popular, reach extremum of popularity, and so melt off. Second, they argued that a given clip period, a pot manner popular at one site would likewise be popular at another.” ( Renfrew and Bahn 2008, 128 ) . Archaeologist such as James A. Ford working in American Southeast and Frank Hole in Iran were able to set up chronological cogency utilizing this method. “Nevertheless it should ever be borne in head that seriation by itself does non state us which terminal of a given sequence is first and which last- the true chronology has to be determined by other means.” ( Renfrew and Bahn 2008, 128 ) .


Title: Seriation of Pottery

Beginning: hypertext transfer protocol: //anthro.palomar.edu/time/glossary.htm

The following dating method to be discussed is potassium Ar dating. This is a type of absolute dating technique. This method is used chiefly to day of the month stones 1000s of old ages old. “Geologists use this method to day of the month stones every bit early as four to five billion old ages old and every bit recent as 100,000 old ages old before present.” ( Fagan 2009, 119 ) . The earth’s crust is engulfed with K and as a consequence it is present in about every mineral. Potassium Ar dating is based on the rule of wireless active decay, the steady but really slow decay of radioactive isotope K -40 ( 40K ) to the inert gas argon-40 ( 40Ar ) in volcanic stone. Knowing the decay rate of 40K-its half life is about 1.3 billion years- a step of the quality of 40 Ar trapped within a 10g stone sample gives and estimation of the day of the month of the rock’s formation. The major restrictions of the technique are that it can merely be used to day of the month sites buried by volcanic stone, and an truth of +10 per centum is seldom achieved. However, K Ar dating played a important function in the site Olduvai Gorge in Tanzania. The site in East Africa was the footing of the survey of human development, as it yielded dodo remains of Australopithecus, Homo habilis, and Homo erectus, every bit good as big Numberss of rock artefacts and castanetss. It should be noted that the Rift Valley in Olduvai is a volcanic country, and its two million twelvemonth old chronology has been established by K Ar dating of the relevant sedimentations of harden volcanic ash and other stuffs.

The concluding archeological dating method to be discussed is the absolute dating technique wireless C dating. Radio C dating has a major impact on archeology, in peculiar on pre history since the deficiency of a written record leaves much to speculation. Radio C has transformed our apprehension of the yesteryear. Harmonizing to Bowman the stuffs which can be dated by wireless C are those which one time formed portion of the biosphere and are hence organic. For illustration, the most normally preserved sample types happening on British sites are castanetss, shells and wood coal. ( Bowman 1990, 12 ) . The innovator for wireless C dating is the American chemist Willard Libby, who in 1949 published the first wireless C day of the months. Libby had been one of the scientists during World War II who was analyzing cosmic radiation, the sub- atomic atoms that invariably bombarded the Earth, bring forthing high- energy neutrons. “These neutrons react with N atoms in the ambiance to bring forth atoms of carbon-14 ( 14C ) , or wireless C, which are unstable because they have eight neutrons in the karyon because they have eight neutrons in the nucleus alternatively of the usual six as for ordinary C ( 12C ) . This handiness leads to radioactive decay of 14C at a regular rate. Libby estimated that it took 5568 old ages of half of the 14C in any sample to disintegrate – its half life – although modern research indicates that more accurate figure is 5730 years.” ( Renfrew and Bahn 2008, 142 ) .

Libby analyzed that the decay of carbon 14 at a changeless rate should be balanced by its changeless production through cosmic radiation and hence the proportion of 14C in the ambiance should stay the same throughout clip. However, Libby’s about the degree of 14C in the ambiance has varied some what, since the wireless C day of the months obtained from tree- rings show that before about 1000BC, trees were exposed to greater concentrations of atmospheric 14C than they are today. At this point it should be noted that this wireless C method can be used anyplace, no affair the clime, every bit long as there is material or organic beginning. This is different as compared to the other absolute dating technique discussed above K Ar which is merely limited to dating volcanic stones. During the latter half of the 20th century, certain promotions had been made to assist rectify the restrictions of carbon 14 dating. For case the gas pedal mass spectroscopy ( AMS ) method is going the dominant method used in carbon 14 dating. This requires smaller samples still. AMS counts the atoms of 14C straight, ignoring their radiation. The minimal sample size is reduced to as such small as 5-10mg, therefore enabling cherished organic stuffs such as the Turin shroud, to be sampled and straight dated, and doing executable the direct dating of pollen. Chiefly, it was hoped that the datable clip span for carbon 14 utilizing AMS could be pushed back from 50,000 to 80,000 old ages, although this is turn outing hard to accomplish in portion because of sample taint. ( Thomas 1999, 76 ) . It should be noted that for inorganic stuffs, thermoluminesence and other new dating techniques are utile.

As compared to the other dating techniques as discussed above, radiocarbon dating can be seen as the most accurate and of import to archaeologist in seting together the yesteryear. It was used to day of the month Upper Paleolithic pictures in the Chauvet Cave, southern France. However all consequences over 30,000 BP are subjected to jobs. Radiocarbon was besides used to asseverate to cogency of the chronology of Europe. In the Caribbean, abroad wireless C dating techniques are besides used, in peculiar Trinidad. The nation’s parliamentary edifice presently is undergoing diggings, and the stuffs they find are shipped overseas for accurate dating utilizing carbon 14 because Trinidad does non hold the proper equipment for dating it, since carbon 14 equipment possibly some what expensive for a development state to digest.

In decision it can be said that wireless C dating, K Ar, seriation and stratigraphy are of import dating techniques one manner or the other. Although carbon 14 can be seen as the most efficient because of it truth and how far back it can day of the month, the other dating techniques are really much relevant



Bowman Sheridan,Interpreting the Past. Radiocarbon Dating. Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1990, Print.

Courbin Paul,What is Archaeology? An essay on the Nature of Archaeological Research. United States of America: The University of Chicago Press, 1988. Print

Fagan Brian,Archaeology. A Brief Introduction. New Jersey: Pearson Education, 2006, Print.

Renfrew Colin and Bahn Paul,Archeology: Theories, Methods, and Practice.United States of America: Thames and Hudson Ltd, 2008, Print.

Thomas Hurst David,Archaeology Down to Earth. United States of America: Harcourt Brace College Publishers, 1999, Print.

Web sites

Swaminathan, Nikhil. “Nondestructive Radiocarbon Dating – College Station, Texas” .Archaeology Archive.A publication of the Archaeological Institute of America, accessed October 30Thursday2014. hypertext transfer protocol: //archive.archaeology.org/1101/topten/texas.html.