Relative dating archaeology

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Artefacts often have a distinctive style or design, which developed over a period of time.In archaeology, the gradual changes in motifs were exploited systematically as a dating method by researchers from Montelius onwards.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'.For their own religious and administrative purposes, the Egyptians compiled lists of kings, sometimes with the exact length of reign.Fragments of such lists survived ('Palermo stone'); none of them is well enough preserved to solve every detail of absolute chronology.

Relative dating does not provide actual numerical dates for the rocks.

On the one level, events and individuals are placed in an absolute chronology: the exact years and sometimes even months and days of the events and biographies are known.

On the other level, the exact years may not be known, but it is known that one feature is earlier or later in relation to another; this is typically the case on an excavation, where the different archaeological strata allow objects found to be placed in a relative historical framework.

The main surviving kinglists from ancient Egypt beside the 'Palermo Stone' are hieroglyphic inscriptions of Thutmose III (Karnak, probably a list of statues displaced in temple construction), Sety I and Ramses II (both at Abydos), and a fragmentary hieratic manuscript from Thebes (Turin Canon).

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.

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