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Archaeology Dating Lecture Part 1
Dendrochronology Dendrochronology is a method that studies the rings of tree trunks to define characteristic sequences by analyzing the morphology of growth rings for a given species. Several sets of rings from different trees are matched to build an average sequence. Limitation and Errors of C Dating: Thus there is co-relation between the rings of one tree to that of another. This unique example comes from a sit known as Bori in Maharashtra, where it was found that a layer yielding flake tools is overlain by a layer of volcanic ash. The fluorine content of fossil bones increases with the passage of time, but at rate which varies from sit to sit, depending on the hydrological conditions, climate, type of matrix and amount of fluorine in circulation. Dendrochronology mainly uses softwood species that are sensitive to changes in growth conditions, while hardwoods show rather little variation in ring width. Relative techniques can determine the sequence of events but not the precise date of an event, making these methods unreliable. It is the duty of an archaeologist to study with care the condition of preservation of specimens submitted for analysis and, in fact, to submit only specimens that can be regarded as fool-proof as is possible in the circumstances. The first difficulty is that the quantity required for a single determination is comparatively large.
This method depends on the changes that have occured in the body structure of some animals during the interglacial periods of the Pleistocene epoch. Hence smaller samples cannot be dated. Another difficulty that has to be taken into serious consideration is the possibility of uneven distribution of radio carbon in organic matter. It may also be collected with the help of glass. Often, the tree-ring analysis from a site can give strong clues about the length of occupation, certain periods of building or repair activities at the site. This method includes carbon dating and thermoluminescence. Based on a discipline of geology called stratigraphy, rock layers are used to decipher the sequence of historical geological events. A major application of dendrochronology in archaeology, as a tool for establishing dates from the samples of wood and articles made out of wood is not only in working out primary chronologies but also in cross checking the already known dates by other methods. Subsequently, overlapping series of average sequences from trees that died at different times and come from various sources ie, the wood of historic buildings, archaeological and fossil woods are used to build a chronological sequence covering several hundred years which becomes a reference. The fluorine method is most suitable for the relative dating of bones in gravelly or sandy alluvial deposits in temperate regions. Their presence on archaeological sites is used to date the soil layers and the objects and events they are associated with and thus contributes to refine the chronology of sites. This method is primarily applied to projectile points and ceramic vessels. Very dangerous contamination is done, very often, by the growth of fungus and bacteria on the surface of the specimen which even when removed from the specimen may falsify its actual age. Sample should be collected from and undisturbed layer. This process repeats in the following years also. The formation of rings is affected by drought and prosperous seasons. Therefore sampling should be done with such material only. On the other hand, absolute dating includes all methods that provide figures about the real estimated age of archaeological objects or occupations. Following the death of an organism, any exchange ceases and the carbon 14, which is radioactive and therefore unstable, slowly begins to disintegrate at a known rate half-life of years, ie, after this period only half of the total carbon 14 present at the time of death remains. This process frees energy in the form of light, which can be measured. For example, the oldest human remains known to date in Canada, found at Gore Creek , have been dated using soil stratification. An example of a practical application of seriation, is the comparison of the known style of artifacts such as stone tools or pottery. While collecting samples for radio carbon dating we should take utmost care, and should observe the following principles and methods. Virtually all argon that had accumulated in the parent material will escape. Charcoal is best material specially if derived from short live plants. When these minerals are heated while a pot is being baked during the occupation of an archaeological site, for instance, the traps formed by their crystal structure are emptied and the clock is reset to zero.
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