How does seriation dating work

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.


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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. Kidder's research forms the basis of nearly all later studies in the area.

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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. His work was summarized in Seventy Years in Archaeology " At Tell el-Hesi in the importance of stratigraphy in the excavation was for the first time fully appreciated.

At Naqada in his discovery of the predynastic cemetery led him to devise the technique of sequence - dating a form of seriation. Sequence dating used the pottery types found in the nearly graves of the Naqada cemeteries.


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His other achievements in Egypt include a survey of the Giza pyramids excavation at El-Amarna and the discovery of the Greek city of Naukratis. After he concentrated on Palestine for example at Tell el-Ajjul. Dating methods where phases or objects can be put into a sequence relative to each other, but which are not tied to calendrically measured time. It is the sequencing of events or materials relative to another but without linkage to ages in years bp before present or calendar years.

Archaeological Dating Techniques: Dendrochronology (Tree Ring Dating)

A relative date is a date which can be said to be earlier than, later than, or contemporary with an event but which unlike an absolute date cannot be measured in calendar years. When archaeologists say that event A occurred before or after event B, they have a relative date for A. Before the advent of chronometric dating techniques, all dating was relative except where links with historical events could be proved. Some of these techniques, mainly stratigraphy and seriation , are still useful where chronometric dates cannot be obtained.

Theoretically, floating chronologies which cannot be tied to an absolute date e.

A method developed by Sir Flinders Petrie for Egyptian predynastic cemeteries for dating a group of similar objects according to their archaeological sequence. In Baxter's , p. Robinson based his frequency seriation method on a similarity matrix. In , Kendall proposed the use of multidimensional scaling techniques for seriation problems, and this approach has also been used by some other scientists see Baxter , pp.

Baxter also presents a review of statistical methods for seriation and a description of these approaches pp. In , Doran and Hodson pp. Today, the most popular seriation method both for contextual and frequency problems is based on correspondence analysis. The sequence of the first axis of a correspondence analysis is considered the best seriation order Shennan , [4] p. Using this technique, not only the sequence of the objects but also those of the design styles is established.

Note that external evidence is needed to establish the direction of the sequence calculated, i. The resulting scatterplot showed the form of a horse-shoe where the graves were arranged on the curve according to their chronological order. Similarly, a mapping of the component scores for the first two axes of the correspondence analysis result will display a parabola if the design styles considered are controlled by one factor only like chronology. This is called the arch effect by Hill and Gauch Therefore, it is recommended inspecting the scatterplot of the first two axes of correspondence analysis to find out if other factors play a role as well see Examples 2 and 3.

If more than one factor is important, the arch effect may distort the results.

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Hill and Gauch presented a method to remove this effect. In , Groenen and Poblome adapted the correspondence analysis algorithm to combine seriation with absolute dates and stratigraphic relationships. The small example below was inspired by Flinders Petrie's serial ordering of Egyptian pottery as published by Renfrew and Bahn , p.

The raw data are stored in an unsorted binary contingency table indicating which design style can be found in which context by a star symbol. For example, consider the first column: A beaker is contained in contexts 1 and 2. Contextual seriation sorts the design styles and the contexts in such a way that the star symbols are found as close as possible to the diagonal of the table. 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.

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.

Seriation (archaeology)

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.

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.

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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. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. This section needs additional citations for verification. Please help improve this article by adding citations to reliable sources. Unsourced material may be challenged and removed.