Methods of dating archaeological evidence

07-Mar-2020 23:10 by 2 Comments

Methods of dating archaeological evidence

Archaeologists use artefacts and stratigraphic evidence, whilst historians use documents.Both methods are equally valid and both have their advantages and disadvantages.

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Both types of study may be appropriate in some cases, but to interpret archaeological remains solely on the basis of written evidence is not good practice.

The cataclysmic eruption 74,000 years ago of Sumatra’s Mount Toba caused a volcanic winter and may have nearly annihilated the earth’s human population.

The search for evidence of that eruption has contributed potentially groundbreaking advances to archaeological dating.

Neither is it acceptable to use selected archaeological evidence simply to illustrate history.

Archaeological work in Britain is largely carried out by professional archaeological contractors who are required to 'clear' building sites of any archaeological remains as part of the planning process. Universities and amateur archaeological groups or individuals are more involved in 'research archaeology', and tend to excavate the same site over many seasons.

Rescue excavations have to be finished as quickly as possible, so the topsoil and overburden is generally stripped using a mechanical excavator.

On rural sites, the soil is taken off to the natural subsoil.

Archaeology is not about finding treasure, or about Indiana Jones or Lara Croft-style adventures!

The discovery of information about people's lives in the past is much more rewarding and exciting to most professionals.

Whilst volunteers are often encouraged by contracting units, the slower pace of the research dig is often less stressful, more fun and better suited to inexperienced diggers.

The study of archaeology involves the use of a wide range of techniques, many of which have been borrowed from other disciplines.

Whilst the latter is the ideal, since it provides us with more detailed information about large areas of human activity, the former is inevitable where there is continuing development.