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Archaeomagnetic dating problems

Seriation is thought to be the first application of statistics in archaeology. The most famous seriation study was probably Deetz and Dethlefsen's study Death's Head, Cherub, Urn and Willow, on changing styles on gravestones in New England cemeteries.

The method is still a standard for cemetery studies.

First used, and likely invented by archaeologist Sir William Flinders-Petrie in 1899, seriation (or sequence dating) is based on the idea that artifacts change over time.

Like tail fins on a Cadillac, artifact styles and characteristics change over time, coming into fashion, then fading in popularity. The standard graphical result of seriation is a series of "battleship curves," which are horizontal bars representing percentages plotted on a vertical axis.

Archaeomagnetic dating—dating archaeological and geological materials by comparing their magnetic data with known changes in the earth's magnetic field—has proved to be of increasing reliability in establishing behavioral and social referents of archaeological data.

Now this volume presents the first book-length treatment of its theory and methodology in North American archaeology.

Usually, the term refers to archaeomagnetic dating.

This chronometric technique is based on two fundamental principles: 1.Two broad categories of dating or chronometric techniques that archaeologists use are called relative and absolute dating.Stratigraphy is the oldest of the relative dating methods that archaeologists use to date things.The sixteen original papers in many cases represent the work of individuals who have been intimately involved with the development and refinement of archaeomagnetic dating techniques.They discuss the geophysical underpinnings of archaeomagnetism; general methodological problems associated with present archaeomagnetic studies, such as sample collection, data measurement and analysis, and experimental control; and advances in experimental archaeology.For more information on stratigraphy and how it is used in archaeology, see the Stratigraphy glossary entry.Seriation, on the other hand, was a stroke of genius.Since the turn of the century, several methods to measure elapsed time have been discovered.The first and simplest method of absolute dating is using objects with dates inscribed on them, such as coins, or objects associated with historical events or documents.For example, since each Roman emperor had his own face stamped on coins during his realm, and dates for emperor's realms are known from historical records, the date a coin was minted may be discerned by identifying the emperor depicted.Many of the first efforts of archaeology grew out of historical documents--for example, Schliemann looked for Homer's Troy, and Layard went after the Biblical Ninevah--and within the context of a particular site, an object clearly associated with the site and stamped with a date or other identifying clue was perfectly useful. Outside of the context of a single site or society, a coin's date is useless.

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