Technological changes can be used for relative dating of archaeological material.The three-age system devised by the Danish archaeologist Christian Thomsen in the 1830s made use of technological criteria.The seriation of stratified deposits permits archaeologists to assess the relative age of particular styles.
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.
Through the investigation of many different stratigraphic contexts, a master sequence of fossil and floral assemblages may be devised for a region.
Absolute Dating Absolute dating can be achieved through the use of historical records and through the analysis of biological and geological patterns resulting from annual climatic variations, such as tree rings (dendrochronology) and varve analysis.
Thus, Sir Arthur Evans was able to establish an accurate absolute chronology for the ancient civilizations of Crete and Greece through the use of Egyptian trade objects that appeared in his excavations—a technique known as cross-dating.
In dendrochronology, the age of wood can be determined through the counting of the number of annual rings in its cross section.
In geology, a master stratigraphic sequence for a particular region is built up by correlating the strata from different locations with one another.
As new locations are investigated, the geologist attempts to fit the new profiles into the master sequence of geological strata for that region.
According to this system, humans passed through three distinct stages of technological development, based on the primary material used to manufacture tools and weapons: the Stone Age, the Bronze Age, and the Iron Age.