How does archaeological dating work

Four main methods have been used in Willandra archaeology.This well known method was the first technique that became available for accurate dating of old of organic material - but an approximate age, usually within a range of a few years either way.The other method is “Relative Dating” which gives an order of events without giving an exact age (1): typically artefact typology or the study of the sequence of the evolution of fossils.There are three carbon isotopes that occur as part of the Earth's natural processes; these are carbon-12, carbon-13 and carbon-14.The unstable nature of carbon 14 (with a precise half-life that makes it easy to measure) means it is ideal as an absolute dating method.If we knew the precise length of reign for every Egyptian king, chronology would be no problem.

Today, the radiocarbon-14 dating method is used extensively in environmental sciences and in human sciences such as archaeology and anthropology.A number of methods are used, all of which have their advantages, limitations and level of accuracy.Complex dating problems often use a variety of techniques and information to arrive at the best answer.For periods without a historic record, attempts have been made to categorize tool kits, pottery styles, and architectural forms into regional timelines.Some ill-fated attempts to define time even attempted to count backwards through the genealogies of the Bible, establishing a series of dates which remain a cause of confusion.This 'law of superimposition' works in the well-defined layers of the Willandra lunettes, but only dates objects as younger or older than adjacent layers.

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