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Stratigraphy is the oldest of the relative dating methods that archaeologists use to date things.
Stratigraphy is based on the law of superposition--like a layer cake, the lowest layers must have been formed first.
In other words, artifacts found in the upper layers of a site will have been deposited more recently than those found in the lower layers.
Cross-dating of sites, comparing geologic strata at one site with another location and extrapolating the relative ages in that manner, is still an important dating strategy used today, primarily when sites are far too old for absolute dates to have much meaning.
In this article, we will examine the methods by which scientists use radioactivity to determine the age of objects, most notably carbon-14 dating.This method has the following restrictions: a) It cannot be used to date items many thousands of years old; b) it can only be used in non-organic materials; and c) the materials to be dated must have been heated to more than 350 degrees Celsius. All of the current dating methods are going through refinement.Archaeologists are seeking an accurate dating technique, but this method is yet to be found.Based on a discipline of geology called stratigraphy, rock layers are used to decipher the sequence of historical geological events.Relative techniques can determine the sequence of events but not the precise date of an event, making these methods unreliable.
The absolute dating method first appeared in 1907 with Lord Rutherford and Professor Boltwood at Yale University, but wasn’t accepted until the 1950s.