Seriation dating

It is a relative dating method.

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In a landmark study, archaeologist James Ford used seriation to determine the chronological order of American Indian pottery styles in the Mississippi Valley. Artifact styles such as pottery types are seriated by analyzing their abundances through time. This is done by counting the number of pieces of each style of the artifact in each stratigraphic layer and then graphing the data. A layer with many pieces of a particular style will be represented by a wide band on the graph, and a layer with only a few pieces will be represented by a narrow band. The bands are arranged into battleship-shaped curves, with each style getting its own curve.

Of course, for a small examples like this, no computer programs are needed to find the best ordering, but for larger data sets like the graves studied by Petrie they are extremely helpful. The data presented in this example was simulated by WinBasp. Initially 60 contexts called units in WinBasp were created along with 50 types. The contexts were labeled in chronological order by numbers 01 to 60, the types are labeled in the form T to T If a type is represented by one object only this object is not relevant for the chronological sequence as it does not provide a link to another context.

Similarly, contexts containing one object only are irrelevant for seriation. Therefore, the contexts with one or no object and types represented by one object or not at all were eliminated. The resulting raw simulated data consisting of 43 contexts and 34 types are shown on the left.

As expected, the dots indicating the occurrence of a type in a context are close to the diagonal of the table. The image on the right hand side shows the result of the seriation for this data set.


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Note that the dots are even more compact along the diagonal of the table compared to the raw data. This shows a minor problem of seriation: In fact, the intervals of production may be somewhat longer than those calculated by the algorithm. In general, the sequences of contexts and types calculated by a seriation algorithm are not the correct chronological sequences but they are fairly close.

The image above shows the scatterplot with the typical parabola shape of the first two axes of a correspondence analysis for the contexts of the simulated data set.

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With each new context a new type appears and another type disappears. For this regular data, it seems reasonable to assume constant time intervals for contexts adjacent in time. The correspondence analysis results shown in the figures below were calculated on the basis of 49 contexts with ideal seriation data. The scatterplot of the first two correspondence analysis axes shows the typical parabola shape. The display of the scores on the first and the third axes exhibits points lying on a third degree polynomial curve. Similarly, the plot of the scores on the first and the fourth axes will show a fourth degree polynomial for ideal data — and so on.

Note that the distances of the scores for adjacent contexts on the first axis vary: At the beginning and the end, the distances are extremely small, the largest distances in the centre is about 30 times as large as the smallest distance.

Dating Techniques - Seriation

Hill and Gauch [8] created a similar contingency table with a regular structure with each context containing six types. They note, too, that the within-context distances are smaller at the ends than in the middle. This was one of the reasons why they proposed an adjustment which is called detrended correspondence analysis. Nevertheless, some archaeologists think that a linear transformation of the scores on the first axis on the basis of some known absolute dates will create good estimates for the unknown absolute dates, and this approach is the basis of the method presented by Groenen and Poblome see above to combine relative and absolute dates.

This ideal example shows that a linear transformation might not be appropriate in all cases, though a simulation study by van de Velden, Groenen and Poblome comes to the conclusion that the predictions of the approach are quite good. The archaeological sequence or sequence for short, on a specific archaeological site can be defined on two levels of rigour.

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August Learn how and when to remove this template message. Materialien zur Bodendenkmalpflege im Rheinland, Heft Sequences in prehistoric remains. Journal of the Anthropological Institute The place of chronological ordering in archaeological analysis. Relative dating , in which the order of certain events is determined, must be distinguished from absolute dating , in which figures in solar years often with some necessary margin of error can be applied to a particular event.

Archaeological Dating Techniques: Stratigraphy

Unless tied to historical records, dating by archaeological methods can only be relative -- such as stratigraphy , typology , cross-dating , and sequence dating. Absolute dating , with some reservation, is provided by dendrochronology , varve dating , thermoluminescence , potassium-argon dating , and, most important presently, radiocarbon dating.

Some relative dating can be calibrated by these or by historical methods to give a close approximation to absolute dates -- archaeomagnetism, obsidian hydration dating , and pollen analysis. Still others remain strictly relative -- collagen content , fluorine and nitrogen test, and radiometric assay. The methods have varying applications, accuracy , range , and cost.

Many new techniques are being developed and tested. American archaeologist who worked mainly in southeastern US and developed the technique of seriation of chronological ordering. He established the archaeological sequence of ceramic typology , seriation , and stratigraphy of coastal Peru. Ford argued that archaeological types were imposed on data by the classifier. A pioneering American archaeologist working in the US southwest. He carried out stratigraphical and seriation excavations, notably of the Pueblo at Pecos, New Mexico , and combined stratigraphy with pottery typology to produce the first synthesis of southwestern prehistory.

It has since been refined by dendrochronology , but it still provides the framework.

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Kidder's research forms the basis of nearly all later studies in the area. He later did archaeological surveys and excavations for the Maya program of the Carnegie Institution of Washington. He was hailed for his multidisciplinary approach to archaeology and for changing American archaeology from antiquarianism to scientific discipline.

American anthropologist who made great contributions to American Indian ethnology ; to the archaeology of New Mexico, Mexico, and Peru; and to the study of linguistics , folklore, kinship , and social structure. He was one of the small group of scholars whose work laid the basis of New World archaeology as a scientific discipline.

From , Kroeber applied the same techniques to Max Uhle 's Peruvian collections. He worked out a scheme for Peruvian archaeology which formed the basis of all studies of the subject for the next 20 years. Kroeber explored much of the Peruvian coast, especially the Nasca Valley where he made the first-ever stratigraphic excavation of a Peruvian midden. Kroeber continued to write about the ethnology of North American Indians and also concentrated on theoretical aspects of anthropology , in particular the processes of culture change.

His Configurations of Culture Growth" sought to trace the growth and decline of all of civilized man's thought and art. An English Egyptologist and a leading figure in the development of archaeology ; he developed the technique known as sequence - dating. He is recognized as the first scientific excavator in Egypt and he wrote many books on general topics, tools and weapons, ancient weights and measures, and Egyptian architecture; in all, he published more than books and articles.