Relative Dating

Relative dating in archaeology

  • Created by: Emma
  • Created on: 27-05-10 08:04

Historical Dating

  • written or artistic evidence which can provide dates
  • TPQ- time before which
  • TAQ- time after which

for sites less than 500 years old.

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  • putting finds in chronological order
  • sites must have undisturbed stratigraphy
  • you can cross date the artefacts
  • this information from a variety of dating sites is brought together
  • the frequency of artifacts are plotted onto a timeline also known as a battleship curve
  • limitations
  • oen artefact doesn't always follow another in sequence
  • e.g. pointed arrowhead thought to be earlier than oval ones, but both found together at box grove.
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plant micro fossils

  • visible to the naked eye
  • seeds
  • leaves
  • twigs

water log sites

  • the wet conditions stop the growth of bacteria so there is no deposition


  • where charing has converted material to inorganic carbon
  • less susceptible to decay e.g. grains in pit at dane bury


  • where organic content of a specimen is replaced by minerals such as iron and maganese from groundwater in the soil.
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Plant micro fossils continued


  • conditions of perma frost -ground is always frozen
  • e.g. coriander seeds in ice maidens grave


  • impressions in mud-brick and pottery
  • e.g. corn cobs at ceren
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plant microfossils

Pollen (palynology)

  • study of polon
  • studied through characteristics of shape
  • survive well in wet acidic conditions due to the though outer case
  • can represent local/regional sample
  • shows environment change


  • microscopic single celled plants
  • open water/ wet condition (bogs)
  • sensitive to changes in local water


  • silica from cells of platns
  • survive well in alkaline soils
  • identify a particular group of plants
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obsidian hydration

VOLCANIC GLASS- worked into a razor - sharp cutting edges

  • found in middle east and mesamerica
  • performed a similar function to flint
  • when its broken it begins to absorb water from the earths atmosphere at a known rate
  • measuring how far it was penetrated into the obsidian the relative date can be estimated


  • requires additional data as speed of hydration varies with local temperatures and chemical makeup of obsidian
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Flouorine Analysis

  • found in most ground water in world
  • skerital remains are subject to chemical change
  • percolating water comes into contact with remains
  • inundats the bones with a solution of minerals drawn from the local soils
  • can change mineral composition of the bone
  • pitdown man
  • jaw bone- missing link for human evolution
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