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Dating Archaeological Sites and Artifacts

How old is it? Over the 150 years of the discipline of scientific archaeology, researchers have used many different ways to determine how old an artifact or archaeological site is. Here's a selection of these techniques.
  1. Calendars (6)
  2. Dendrochronology (8)
  3. Radiocarbon Labs (9)
  4. Timing is Everything (6)

RCYBP - Radio Carbon Years Before the Present
RCYBP (Radio Carbon Years Before the Present and abbreviated in many different ways) is a shorthand reference to the uncalibrated date recovered from carbon 14 dating.

AMS (Accelerator Mass Spectrometry) Radiocarbon Dating
AMS radiocarbon dating is a form of radiocarbon dating that is more precise and requires less carbon than conventional radiocarbon methods.

Archaeomagnetic Dating
Archaeomagnetic dating is a method of assigning a date to a fireplace or burned earth area using the earth's magnetic field.

Fluoride Dating Service Center
From Mark Schurr at the University of Notre Dame, a website announcing their new dating service; also includes information about how the technique works.

Dendrochronology
Dendrochronology is the measurement of growth rings of long-lived trees as a calendar.

Chronological Analysis
Archaeologists use the term 'chronological analysis' to refer to the analysis of an object, set of objects, archaeological site or set of sites in terms of its temporal characteristics

Mean Ceramic Date
A mean ceramic date is a method of determining the age of a historical artifact assemblage using the average dates of the pottery sherds collected from the site.

Oxidizable Carbon Ratio Dating
Is a dating method which uses the rate of biochemical pedogenesis, or soil growth, to determine the age of buried sediments. From Douglas Frink

Radiocarbon Dating
Understanding radiocarbon dating isn't difficult---it just sounds that way. From the Research Laboratory for Archaeology at Oxford University.

Potassium-Argon Dating
The potassium-argon method of dating artifacts and sites, like radiocarbon dating, relies on measuring radioactive emissions.

Obsidian Hydration
The dating technique called obsidian hydration is a favorite of archaeologists, both because it is relatively secure and because it is relatively inexpensive.

Radioarbon Dating Method
The radiocarbon dating methodology compares the amount of Carbon 14 (C14) available in dead organisms against the known amount of carbon in the atmosphere.

Paleomagnetic Dating
Paleomagnetic dating (also called archaeomagnetic dating) is a method of assigning a date to a fireplace or burned earth area using the earth's magnetic field.

Timing is Everything
This five part series on archaeological dating methods gives you the five-minute tour on everything from seriation to oxidized carbon ratios. Give it a whirl!

U.S. Nuclear Data Program
Data, data browsers, viewers, and articles useful in various fields of archaeology such as luminescence dating.

Seriation
The technique of dating archaeological sites and materials by seriation was invented by William Flinders-Petrie.

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