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What is relative dating

On the other hand, absolute dating includes all methods that provide figures about the real estimated age of archaeological objects or occupations.These methods usually analyze physicochemical transformation phenomena whose rate are known or can be estimated relatively well.

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Relative dating includes different techniques, but the most commonly used are soil stratigraphy analysis and typology.This is the only type of techniques that can help clarifying the actual age of an object.Absolute dating methods mainly include radiocarbon dating, dendrochronology and thermoluminescence.Stratigraphic dating remains very reliable when it comes to dating objects or events in undisturbed stratigraphic levels.For example, the oldest human remains known to date in Canada, found at Gore Creek, have been dated using soil stratification.The bones were buried under (and are therefore older) a layer of ash that resulted from a volcanic eruption dating back to 7000 years BP (Before Present; "present" indicates c. Subsequently, radiocarbon dating, an absolute dating technique, was used to date the bones directly and provided a date of 8250 BP, showing how useful the combined used of relative and absolute dating can be.

Moreover, stratigraphic dating is sometimes based on the objects that are found within the soil strata.

However, this method is sometimes limited because the reoccupation of an area may require excavation to establish the foundation of a building, for instance, that goes through older layers.

In this case, even if the foundation of the building is found in the same stratigraphic level as the previous occupation, the two events are not contemporary.

Subsequently, the calibration of that date provides a time interval where the event or object being dated can be situated (eg, 1275-1425 AD).

Radiocarbon dating, however, can only be used for dating objects that are less than 50 000 years.

There are two main categories of dating methods in archaeology: indirect or relative dating and absolute dating.