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At a glance (Relative dating in archaeology)

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Associations between objects are the basis for as well as in interpretation -- cultural connections, original function, etc.Pottery and flint tools associated in a closed context would be grounds for linking them into an assemblage, possibly making the full of a group available.

SYNONYMS OR RELATED TERMS: chronometric dating; absolute dates; absolute chronology; absolute age determination (antonym: relative dating)CATEGORY: chronology; technique DEFINITION: The determination of age with reference to a specific time scale, such as a fixed calendrical system or in years before present (B.P., BP), based on measurable physical and chemical qualities or historical associations such as coins and written records.The date on a coin is an absolute date, as are AD 1492 or 501 SYNONYMS OR RELATED TERMS: relative dates; relative dating techniques CATEGORY: technique; chronology DEFINITION: Dating methods where phases or objects can be put into a sequence relative to each other, but which are not tied to calendrically measured time.It is the sequencing of events or materials relative to another but without linkage to ages in years bp (before present) or calendar years.Theoretically, floating chronologies which cannot be tied to an absolute date (e.g.certain dendrochronological sequences) are relative chronologies even though the techniques are essentially chronometric.

and that are thought to have been deposited at approximately the same time (being in or on the same matrix).

Objects are said to be in association with each other when they are found together in a context which suggests simultaneous deposition.

A relative date is a date which can be said to be earlier than, later than, or contemporary with an event but which (unlike an absolute date) cannot be measured in calendar years.

When archaeologists say that event A occurred before or after event B, they have a relative date for A.

Before the advent of techniques, all dating was relative except where links with historical events could be proved.

Some of these techniques, mainly stratigraphy and seriation, are still useful where chronometric dates cannot be obtained.