Limitation of relative dating

The main drawback to dendrochronology is its reliance on the existence of relatively long-lived vegetation with annual growth rings.Secondly, annual rainfall is a regional climatic event, and so tree ring dates for the southwest are of no use in other regions of the world.It was now possible to assign a calendar date to archaeological sites in the American southwest for over 1000 years.Determining calendar rates using dendrochronology is a matter of matching known patterns of light and dark rings to those recorded by Douglass and his successors.Without those, the archaeologists were in the dark as to the age of various societies. The use of tree ring data to determine chronological dates, dendrochronology, was first developed in the American southwest by astronomer Andrew Ellicott Douglass.In 1901, Douglass began investigating tree ring growth as an indicator of solar cycles.Using local pine trees, Douglass built a 450 year record of the tree ring variability.Clark Wissler, an anthropologist researching Native American groups in the Southwest, recognized the potential for such dating, and brought Douglass subfossil wood from puebloan ruins.

And, outside of certain periods in our past, there simply were no chronologically dated objects, or the necessary depth and detail of history that would assist in chronologically dating civilizations.The method is still a standard for cemetery studies.Absolute dating, the ability to attach a specific chronological date to an object or collection of objects, was a breakthrough for archaeologists.For example, JJA Worsaae used this law to prove the Three Age System.For more information on stratigraphy and how it is used in archaeology, see the Stratigraphy glossary entry.

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