Radiocarbon dating is limited to

Relative Dating Before the 20th cent., archaeologists and geologists were largely limited to the use of relative dating techniques.Estimates of the absolute age of prehistoric and geological events and remains amounted to little more than inspired guesswork, as there was no scientific basis for testing such proposals.Although it has been a tool of enormous value to archaeologists in the past 50 years, it has been limited by several factors.In most cases it requires a fairly large sample of material; samples can be easily contaminated in the process of handling; it yields a relatively wide range of possible dates; and its effective use is limited to the furthest age of 40,000 or 50,000 years.However, as the basic principles of relative dating progressed during the course of the 19th cent., investigators were able to correctly determine the relative age of many archaeological and geological materials.Stratigraphic dating is accomplished by interpreting the significance of geological or archaeological strata, or layers.

Oakley (1979) suggested its development meant an almost complete re-writing of the evolution and cultural emergence of the human species.

For periods without a historic record, attempts have been made to categorize tool kits, pottery styles, and architectural forms into regional timelines.

Some ill-fated attempts to define time even attempted to count backwards through the genealogies of the Bible, establishing a series of dates which remain a cause of confusion.

"Everything which has come down to us from heathendom is wrapped in a thick fog; it belongs to a space of time we cannot measure.

We know that it is older than Christendom, but whether by a couple of years or a couple of centuries, or even by more than a millenium, we can do no more than guess." [Rasmus Nyerup, (Danish antiquarian), 1802 (in Trigger, 19)].

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dating, the determination of the age of an object, of a natural phenomenon, or of a series of events.

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