What is relative dating in archaeology

In relative dating, archaeologists interpret artifacts based on their positions within the (horizontal layering) of the soil.The study of stratigraphy follows the excavation axiom "last in, first out"--meaning that an archaeologist usually removes soil layers in the reverse order in which they were laid down (see Figure 1).Dating inorganic materials is also quite challenging, because relatively few artifacts come labeled with a date of manufacture.In fact, pottery, the most common type of artifact found at archaeological sites, seldom contains obvious indications of its age.An archaeologist can determine the age of a pottery fragment by measuring the remaining amount of radioactive elements that it contains.

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Using both relative and absolute dating methods, an archaeologist can often place a site within a larger chronological framework.

The 1885 coin in Layer E establishes that Layer E dates from on or after 1885.

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