How Archaeologists Get a Date
A Valentine’s Day blog post
Archaeologists like to use several dating methods to find out more about artifacts. It all depends on what the object is, where the archaeologist is located (what resources he/she has access to), and how old the artifact appears to be.
What is eligible for dating?
Not every artifact is eligible for all dating methods; for example, an artifact must be made from a carbon-based material to use radiocarbon dating (stone, for example doesn’t have carbon). A stone artifact can be dated based on the way it looks and/or the way it was made. Over many years of research chronologies of stone tools (and pottery) have been built, based on styles (called Seriation).
Archaeologists can also be matchmakers by using the context, which is the where, when and how an artifact is found. In the end, archaeologists often use a few different methods on an group of artifacts found together to come up with a reasonable date.