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Relative dating archaeology definition

The greatest problem with dating an artefact from an archaeology site is that nearly every absolute dating process requires the destruction of at least a piece of the object in conducting the analysis. There are relatively few dating laboratories and having an artefact dated can be an expensive exercise especially if the artefact is not of great value itself. When an archaeological site is excavated the sides of the unexcavated baulk reveals layering of subsequent settlements and activity.Stratigraphic excavation is the recording and study of these different strata as they are removed from the area.Once an artefact is compared to its known development date then whenever that item reappears in the archaeological record, of that or any other site, it can quickly be dated.

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The changing styles of pottery, glass, stoneware, and metal objects provide archaeology analysts with known progressive sequences.Simply assuming that an artefact is older because it was found at a lower depth in the record is only subjective science.There are many instances of deep holes being dug for rubbish pits or to locate well water that protrude into the record of older strata injecting more modern material as they are filled in over time.There are a number of techniques that have come to archaeology through the nuclear research efforts during WW2.Radiocarbon dating uses the biological assumption that all living things absorb carbon, both ordinary carbon, C12, and radioactive carbon, C14, into their living tissue.When museums and collectors purchase archaeological items for their collections they enter an expensive and potentially deceptive commercial fine arts arena.Healthy profits are to be made from illicitly plundered ancient sites or selling skillfully made forgeries.At the moment of death the C14 begins to decay at a rate that scientists already know from other experiments.The missing amount can then determine how long it took to be lost and therefore date the object to a precise period.Rocks, when formed by volcanic reaction or other cataclysmic event, contain a minute quantity of radioactive substance.From the day of the rock's creation this radioactivity begins to deplete.

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