Typology dating techniques

The extent of documentation varied considerably in 'historical' cultures and the information that survives is determined by a variety of factors.If a context containing burnt debris and broken artefacts is excavated on a site from a historical period, it is tempting to search the local historical framework for references to warfare or a disaster in the region, and to date the excavated context accordingly.The Law of Superposition, which states that older layers will be deeper in a site than more recent layers, was the summary outcome of 'relative dating' as observed in geology from the 17th century to the early 20th century.The regular order of occurrence of fossils in rock layers was discovered around 1800 by William Smith.Though relative dating can only determine the sequential order in which a series of events occurred, not when they occurred, it remains a useful technique.Relative dating by biostratigraphy is the preferred method in paleontology and is, in some respects, more accurate.These techniques both place assemblages of artefacts into relative order.Petrie used sequence dating to work back from the earliest historical phases of Egypt into pre-dynastic Neolithic times, using groups of contemporary artefacts deposited together at a single time in graves.

Prior to the discovery of radiometric dating in the early 20th century, which provided a means of absolute dating, archaeologists and geologists used relative dating to determine ages of materials.

The shape, size, and superficial characteristics of artifacts, features, structure, sites, etc., provided by measurements (including weight) that permit comparative statistical analysis of attributes and frequencies.

SYNONYMS OR RELATED TERMS: morphological type; morphology CATEGORY: typology DEFINITION: A descriptive and abstract grouping of individual artifacts whose focus is on overall similarity rather than specific form or function.

SYNONYMS OR RELATED TERMS: typology CATEGORY: technique DEFINITION: The classification of artifacts into types to compare artifacts or features across time and space, or to determine relative dates for sites.

CATEGORY: typology DEFINITION: The study of classes with common characteristics; classification of artifacts; the systematic classification of artifacts or remains according to type, i.e. This is the first step in archaeological analysis and necessary in comparing assemblages and in determining time sequences.

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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.

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