Absolute dating in archaeology
In Egyptology the method was first used by Petrie for dating the Naqada period, from the development of the so-called wavy-handled pottery.- At least some objects belonging to such a typology should be datable by other criteria to fix a typology into a chronological framework. An object category or motif might develop not regularly but in staccato 'jumps'.
Kinglists in Greek, apparently compiled by a third century BC Egyptian priest named Manetho, are preserved in summaries by early Christian writers, with excerpts in other writers of the Roman Period and later, notably the Jewish historian Josephus.In the archaeology of part-literate societies, dating may be said to operate on two levels: the absolute exactness found in political history or 'history event-by-event', and the less precise or relative chronology, as found in social and economic history, where life can be seen to change with less precision over time.The contrast might also be drawn between two 'dimensions', the historical, and the archaeological, corresponding roughly to the short-term and long-term history envisaged by Fernand Braudel.After the 'death' of these organic materials the Carbon-14 atoms decay. Therefore it is possible to measure the number of these atoms in organic materials to obtain quantified information on the date of an item.The method has a margin of accuracy of several hundred years and it is therefore not useful to fix dates in historic periods, but very useful for prehistory (in Egypt before 3000 BC).
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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.