By Stephen E. Nash

Archaeologists with services in stratigraphy, ceramic courting, obsidian hydration, and luminescence courting current ancient and nontechnical studies of the development, improvement, and alertness in their options.

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Extra resources for It's about time: a history of archaeological dating in North America

Sample text

Stratigraphic dating is the oldest of dating methods in the discipline and the most fundamental and pivotal to its historic development, yet the history of stratigraphic analysis is complex and varied, depending on the nature and age of the site being excavated. I have been asked to explore the history of stratigraphic dating in the field of archaeology. As I have just pointed out, stratigraphy is crucial to sound archaeological interpretation; it has been since the beginning and still is. Rather than just exploring the historical importance of stratigraphic dating, I include a historical review of a slightly larger concept: stratigraphy as a whole.

Very little other than superposition or its disruption is important to archaeological stratigraphy. Historians of archaeology (Daniel 1950, 1975; Trigger 1989; Willey and Sabloff 1980, 1993) divide the discipline into periods before and after which archaeologists routinely practiced stratigraphic excavation. Stratigraphic dating using superposition can be accomplished in two ways, through stratigraphic excavation and through stratigraphic observation after excavation (Browman and Givens 1996). Stratigraphic excavation is a method of recording the arrangements of artifacts as excavation proceeds, separating artifacts of one layer from artifacts of stratigraphically different layers.

Vance Haynes, Reid Ferring, Rolfe Mandel, and Vance Holliday) and continue to use stratigraphic dating as well as stratigraphic excavation. Even though new highly refined absolute-dating techniques have become standard (see Taylor and Aitken 1997), they continue to rely on the basics of stratigraphic dating. During this entire period, the techniques for field description and recording of artifact provenience and context have changed little, and therefore require little historical analysis. Equipment used today is different, and samples are collected for a host of analyses that were never dreamed of in 1935.

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