Relative dating archaeology definition
Relative dating is the science determining the relative order of past events, without necessarily determining their absolute age.In geology rock or superficial deposits, fossils and lithologies can be used to correlate one stratigraphic column with another.
Many disciplines of archaeological science are concerned with dating evidence.Methods borrowed from the natural sciences are also used for dating objects of prehistoric epochs.Chronology of rock art, ranging from Paleolithic to present times, is a key aspect of the archaeology of art and one of the most controversial.Prior to the discovery of radiometric dating which provided a means of absolute dating in the early 20th century, archaeologists and geologists were largely limited to the use of relative dating techniques to determine the geological events.Though relative dating can only determine the sequential order in which a series of events occurred, not when they occur, it remains a useful technique especially in materials lacking radioactive isotopes.This polarity is stored within rocks, through this the rock can be dated Tephrochronology: Volcanic ash has its own signature for each eruption.
In a sedimentary sequence the associated material within the ash layer can be dated giving a date for the eruption.
Relative or indirect methods tend to use associations built from the archaeological body of knowledge. Ultimately, relative dating relies on tying into absolute dating with reference to the present.
One example of this is dendrochronology which uses a process of tying floating chronologies of tree rings together by cross referencing a body of work.
From top to bottom: Rounded tan domes of the Navajo Sandstone, layered red Kayenta Formation, cliff-forming, vertically jointed, red Wingate Sandstone, slope-forming, purplish Chinle Formation, layered, lighter-red Moenkopi Formation, and white, layered Cutler Formation sandstone.
Picture from Glen Canyon National Recreation Area, Utah.
It was based for decades in nonscientific methods that used stylistic analysis of imagery to establish one-way evolutionary schemes.