In a given time period within a given area, the pattern of thick and thin rings is distinctive. All trees in the same area will show the same pattern of rings.By examining both living trees and archaeological remains of trees in a given area, scientists can document ring patterns hundreds or even thousands of years into the past.Voyage into Archaeology Links, articles, and other beginner's resources in archaeology, including a simulation game called "Be a Time Detective." Glossary of Archaeological Terms What is chert? For example, the arrival of sophisticated carbon-14 dating methods in the 1940s caused scientists to revise their interpretation of events in Europe in prehistoric times.
Year-to-year variations in climate, especially rainfall amounts, are reflected in tree rings.A lot of rain in a given year causes thick rings, and little rainfall yields thin rings.If a tree trunk was used as a house beam, and archaeologists can use dendrochronology to date when the tree was cut down, they have a concrete reference point for dating that house.Unless the beam was put in later, the house was built when the tree was cut down, or slightly later.This is especially significant when archaeologists have no other dating information.
This method assumes that artifact styles change over time, but that the changes are gradual.
This sort of information helps archaeologists to put objects into an age sequence.
Relative dating does not give archaeology absolute dates that can be tied into a calendar.
Probably the most well known dating method is carbon-14 (C-14) dating.
This method of absolute dating is based on the measurement of the radioactive decay of the C-14 atom.
Imagine an archaeologist needs to assign a date to a bone recovered during an excavation.