Prior to the availability of radiocarbon dates (and when there is no material suitable for a radiocarbon date) scientists used a system of relative dating.Relative dating establishes the sequence of physical or cultural events in time.During and after an excavation, an archaeologist confronts a bewildering collection of artifacts, drawings, and photographs to decipher and relate to one another.Using both relative and absolute dating methods, an archaeologist can often place a site within a larger chronological framework.
Acropolis - The "high point" or citadel of an ancient Greek city, like the Acropolis in Athens.
In relative soil dating, archaeologists follow two general principles known as refers to the concept that all the soil below a solid, undisturbed layer dates before that layer (see Figure 3).
Relative dating of a site's stratigraphy often depends on the absolute dating of excavated materials and artifacts.
In relative dating, archaeologists interpret artifacts based on their positions within the (horizontal layering) of the soil.
The study of stratigraphy follows the excavation axiom "last in, first out"--meaning that an archaeologist usually removes soil layers in the reverse order in which they were laid down (see Figure 1).