Relative dating techniques archaeology
Some archaeologists, even until quite recent times, have mistakenly supposed that depth below ground level is itself an indication of antiquity.But even in properly observed and recorded stratigraphic levels there is often doubt, and the question arises: are all the artifacts and human remains found in the same level contemporary?Hunting scenes depicted in the rock art illustrate dog-assisted hunting strategies from the 7th and possibly the 8th millennium BC, predating the spread of pastoralism.
Particularly notable is the inclusion of leashes on some dogs, the earliest known evidence in prehistory.
This gave a chronology of about 18,000 years—three times as long as the man-made chronology based on Egyptian and Mesopotamian king lists. It has been possible by dendrochronology to date prehistoric American sites as far back as the 3rd and 4th centuries carbon-14) present in bones, wood, or ash found in archaeological sites is measured.
Thus, absolute dates could be established for artifacts from the Late Paleolithic Period, the whole of the Mesolithic Period, or Middle Stone Age, and much of the Early Neolithic Period. Because the rate at which this activity decreases in time is known, the approximate age of the material can be determined by comparing it to carbon-14 activity in presently living organic matter.
Second, there is a need for interpretive analysis of the material from which artifacts were made.
This is something that the archaeologist himself is rarely equipped to do; he has to rely on colleagues specializing in geology, Stonehenge (a prehistoric construction on Salisbury Plain in southern England) had come from the Prescelly Mountains of north Pembrokeshire; and he established as a fact of prehistory that over 4,000 years ago these large stones had been transported 200 miles from west Wales to Salisbury Plain.
Conversely, an object from an undated culture may be found at a site whose date is known.