Popular Dating Methods In Archeology

Popular Dating Methods In Archeology 1

What Are Dating Methods

Dating methods/techniques are procedures used by scientists to determine the age of rocks, fossils, monuments or artefacts. Multiple types of dating methods exist and some can be used without using tools and utensils. Even now, new dating methods are being created just to help out people dig around and improve in their archeology.

There are 2 categories for dating methods in archeology and history. The two types are relative dating and absolute dating. Relative dating methods give an approximate age of an artefact. Absolute dating methods give an exact age of an artefact.


Some types of relative dating methods; stratigraphy, typology, seriation dating and the three age system. Some types of absolute dating methods; radiocarbon C14 dating, dendrochronology, potassium argon dating, thermoluminescence dating and archaeomagnetic dating. Some absolute unpopular dating methods are Amino-acid racemisation, Obsidian hydration, Cation-ratio dating and Fluorine-uranium-nitrogen dating.

Stratigraphic Dating

Stratigraphy uses the principle of the superposition, which is also referred to layering. The upper horizons are newer than the lower horizons. However this method is sometimes limited if the place has been effected by different variables. For example, construction would mix all the layerings and it would make the method unhelpful. Stratigraphic dating is useful when testing an artefact or monument during an archeological dig.

Most Common Dating Method - Stratigraphic Dating
Statigraphic Dating

Typographic Dating

Typology is a method that compares objects in order to classify them according to their similarity or dissimilarity and place them to a specific era or period. Typology approximates the specific period and is used when absolute dating methods aren’t useful. This method can be unhelpful if the artefact or monument is ruined, dirty or too unique for its era. There is usually a maximum 500 year difference when using typology.

Typographic Dating Method Picture
Typographic Dating

Seriation Dating

Seriation dating is an extension of typology dating and can be used when stratigraphic dating is not possible or practical. This method relies on categorising different objects with similarities and dissimilarities and artefacts in different periods or eras. Seriation Dating is really effective, but is also very complicated and will work if there has only been one clear culture occupying a site or there has been a definite evolution of styles.

Seriation Dating Method Picture

Radio Carbon (C14) Dating

Radio Carbon (C14) Dating is the most widely used dating method in archeology. Organic material that is between 60 000 and 400 years old can be dated by measuring Carbon-14 which is a radioactive isotope of carbon absorbed by living organism.


Dendrochronology uses softwood species that are sensitive to changes in growth conditions, while hardwood shoe rather little variation in ring width. This provides accurate dating, sometimes to the nearest year. This method is based on principles that the variation in tree growth from one year to another is influenced by the degree of precipitation, sunshine, temperature, soil type and all ambient conditions and that, consequently, reference patterns can be distinguished.

Dendrochronology Dating Method
Dendrochronology Dating


Thermoluminescence is yet another type of radioactivity dating. But (unlike radiocarbon dating) it can date fired pottery and non-organic materials over 50 000 years old. Thermoluminescence works by analysing the microscopic structure of pottery and minerals to track movements in heat and radioactive energy that are trapped leading to structural changes. When heated to 500 degrees Celsius, a flash of light (thermoluminescence) emitted by the object can be measured along with the radioactivity to work out when the object was originally fired.

Thermoluminescence Dating Method
Thermoluminescence Dating

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