Archaeological Dating Methods, Sites, Artifacts, Projects

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Aegean Dendrochronology Project Homepage, Professor Peter Ian Kuniholm, director, Cornell University __ A fascinating introduction to this method of dating. "Dendrochronology or tree-ring dating has been available as an archaeometric technique for most of this century. Simply stated, trees in temperate zones grow one ring per calendrical year. For the entire period of a tree's life, a year-by-year record or ring pattern is formed that in some way reflects the climatic conditions in which the tree grew. These patterns can be compared and matched ring for ring with trees growing in the same geographical zone and under similar climatic conditions. Following these tree-ring patterns--the sum of which we refer to as chronologies--from living trees back through time, we can thus compare wood from old or ancient structures to our known chronologies, match the ring patterns (a technique we call cross-dating), and determine precisely the age of the wood used by the ancient builder." - From Cornell University - 

Archaeological Palynology __ Learn about using using palynology as an archaeological tool. "Archaeological Palynology has developed somewhat independently in different nations during the mid- twentieth century, so terminologies and emphases vary." You will find an overview plus links and bibliographical information. -


Association for Tree-Ring Research __ "The scope of the Association of Tree-Ring Research is rather diverse. It is in particular aimed at research groups and individual scientists of Europe working without a detailed knowledge of what is going on in the many different corners of Europe, but also of course, for everybody interested in this field. We, thus, hope to create a vivid platform for all of you." You will find a lot of good generalized information as well as links to databases and more. - From Association for Tree Ring Research -

Beyond Carbon __ "The range of methods available to earth scientists and archaeologists that can date events older than the range of the radiocarbon method has expanded rapidly..."  Learn about these new methodologies with a detailed examination of each. - From -

Cation-ratio Dating __ "Cation-ratio dating is used to date rock surfaces such as stone artifacts and cliff and ground drawings. It can be used to obtain dates that would be unobtainable by more conventional methods such as radiocarbon dating. Scientists use cation-ratio dating to determine how long rock surfaces have been exposed."  A brief overview. - From - 

Dating the Evidence __ Brief summaries of various archaeological dating techniques. - From Annenberg/CPB -

Dating Methods and What You Need to Know Before Going Into the Field __ "Archaeologists often utilize a number of dating techniques, both relative and absolute in their research efforts. This chapter, though primarily concerned with absolute dating methods, will also briefly discuss relative dating methods as well." A good overview. - From -

Dating the Past __ Chapter 4 of Kevin Greene's Archaeology: an introduction with references to many techniques. - From University of Newcastle upon Tyne -

Dating Techniques in Archaeology __ "This exercise is designed to introduce you to basic techniques used in determining the age of archaeological materials and sites. There are two general categories of methods for dating in archaeology. One is Relative Dating, and the other is Absolute Dating."  Learn about both and how they are applied. - From -

Dating Techniques - Thermoluminescence Dating __ "Thermoluminescence dating is very useful for determining the age of pottery. Electrons from quartz and other minerals in the pottery clay are bumped out of their normal positions (ground state) when the clay is exposed to radiation."  A good overview of the procedure. - From -   

Dendrochronology __ "Simply put, dendrochronology is the dating of past events (climatic changes) through study of tree ring growth." For the not so simply put but very interesting rest of the story, this is a good place. - From Ancient Bristlecone Pine - 

Euro-dendro welcome page __ Database of European dendrochronology. Fully searchable. - From Dr Tom Levanic - 


INSTAAR Dendrochronology Laboratory __ Learn about the laboratory, its research projects and how they can be applied to archaeological dating. - illustrated - From University of Colorado at Boulder. -

Museum Conservation Institute Dating of Artifacts __ A brief article and some references and contacts. - From -

A new method of archaeological dating by rehydroxylation __ "Their new 'rehydroxylation dating' method stems utilises the fact that fired clay ceramics start to react chemically with atmospheric moisture as soon as it is removed from the kiln. The ultra-slow recombination of moisture appears to be generic in fired-clay ceramics and obeys a precise power law, which acts as an 'internal clock'."  A full paper online. - From -

Paleomagnetic and Archaeomagnetic Dating __ "After World War II, geologists developed the paleomagnetic dating technique to measure the movements of the magnetic north pole over geologic time. In the early to mid 1960s, Dr. Robert Dubois introduced this new absolute dating technique to archaeology as archaeomagnetic dating."  A good explanation of the procedures and links to additional resources. - From -    
Radiocarbon Dating of the Shroud of Turin __ "Very small samples from the Shroud of Turin have been dated by accelerator mass spectrometry in laboratories at Arizona, Oxford and Zurich. As Controls, three samples whose ages had been determined independently were also dated. The results provide conclusive evidence that the linen of the Shroud of Turin is mediaeval." - 

Radiocarbon Home Page __ "Radiocarbon is the main international journal of record for research articles and date lists relevant to 14C and other radioisotopes and techniques used in archaeological, geophysical, oceanographic, and related dating. It is published 3 times a year. We also publish conference proceedings and monographs on topics related to our fields of interest." You may subscribe or read online. - From Radiocarbon Journal -

Radiocarbon WEB-info __ Excellent all-purpose website about radiocarbon, its application, uses, age calculation, information for kids and more. "Radiocarbon dating is the technique upon which chronologies of the late Pleistocene and Holocene have been built. This resource is designed to provide online information concerning the radiocarbon dating method. We hope it will be of occasional use to radiocarbon users and interested students alike." - From Tom Higham, Radiocarbon Laboratory, University of Waikato -

Rock Art Dating and Conservation __ Summary of a scientific paper illustrating recent developments in rock art dating. - From James Q. Jacobs -

Rocky Mountain Tree-Ring Research Home Page __ "Rocky Mountain Tree-Ring Research is a nonprofit research organization founded in 1997 by Peter M Brown. We provide expertise in tree-ring collection, dating, and analysis to answer a variety of basic and applied questions in fire and forest history, paleoclimatology, and forest ecology and management." You will find several articles and reports. - From Rocky Mountain Tree-ring Research - 

Timing is Everything - Archaeology __ A series of excellent essays about archaeological dating and the various techniques used. - From -

Tree-Ring Society Home Page __ "The Tree-Ring Society is an international scientific association dedicated to tree-ring research and education." Learn about their programs, goals, educational materials, membership requirements and journal. - From Tree-Ring Society -


The ULTIMATE tree-ring pages __ Well, the opening paragraph of the website makes a fine review. "Welcome and thank you for visiting the Ultimate Tree-Ring web pages, designed to be the ULTIMATE source for information on the science of Dendrochronology. I've designed these pages to be easily understood by people at all levels of education, from elementary school students to high school students, from first grade teachers to college professors. You won't find anything fancy here - I want these pages to be readable, enjoyable, and (most of all) educational. - illustrated - From Dr. Henri D. Grissino-Mayer -

USGS -- Scientific Capabilities - Paleomagnetism Analyses __ You will find a good overview and information about equipment and technique plus more. "Paleomagnetism, defined as the ancient magnetism preserved in rocks, soil, and ceramics, is useful for age- determinations and for measuring deformation. As a dating tool, paleomagnetism is frequently applied to sedimentary sections where magnetic-polarity stratigraphy can be correlated with the geomagnetic polarity time scale." - From USGS -

WDC for Paleoclimatology - Tree-ring Data Search __ Online database covering tree ring research around the world. You may search by country, investigator, species and more. - From National Geophysical Data Center -

The various dating techniques available to archaeologists __ "Today's archaeologist has a wide variety of natural, electro-magnetic, chemical, and radio-metric dating methodologies available to her that can be used to accurately date objects that are just a few hundred years old as well as objects that are a few million years old with high accuracy in the right circumstances."  A brief look at several of these techniques. - From Michael G. Lamoureux -

What Is Thermoluminescence Dating? __ A general overview of the procedure. - From -

What Is Varve Chronology? __ "In glacial environments varve sequences are used to establish time lines for such things as deglaciation or the repopulation of regions by organisms following deglaciation."  Learn how this can provide very accurate dating. - From - 


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