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Seriation, Stratigraphy, and Index Fossils : The Backbone of Archaeological Dating - Michael J. O'Brien

Seriation, Stratigraphy, and Index Fossils

The Backbone of Archaeological Dating

Hardcover Published: 31st July 1999
ISBN: 9780306461521
Number Of Pages: 253

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It is difficult for today's students of archaeology to imagine an era when chronometric dating methods were unavailable. However, even a casual perusal of the large body of literature that arose during the first half of the twentieth century reveals a battery of clever methods used to determine the relative ages of archaeological phenomena, often with considerable precision.
Stratigraphic excavation is perhaps the best known of the various relative-dating methods used by prehistorians. Although there are several techniques of using artifacts from superposed strata to measure time, these are rarely if ever differentiated. Rather, common practice is to categorize them under the heading `stratigraphic excavation'. This text distinguishes among the several techniques and argues that stratigraphic excavation tends to result in discontinuous measures of time - a point little appreciated by modern archaeologists.
Although not as well known as stratigraphic excavation, two other methods of relative dating have figured important in Americanist archaeology: seriation and the use of index fossils. The latter (like stratigraphic excavation) measures time discontinuously, while the former - in various guises - measures time continuously. Perhaps no other method used in archaeology is as misunderstood as seriation, and the authors provide detailed descriptions and examples of each of its three different techniques.
Each method and technique of relative dating is placed in historical perspective, with particular focus on developments in North America, an approach that allows a more complete understanding of the methods described, both in terms of analytical technique and disciplinary history. This text will appeal to all archaeologists, from graduate students to seasoned professionals, who want to learn more about the backbone of archaeological dating.

Industry Reviews

`...is a very useful book.'
North American Archaeologist, 22:4 (2001)

An Introduction to Time and Dating
Preliminary Considerations
Relative and Absolute Time
Continuous and Discontinuous Time
Direct and Indirect Dating
Scientific Dating
Time and Its Measurement
Nominal Scale Measurement
Ordinal Scale Measurement
Ordinal Scale Measurement
Interval Scale Measurement
Ratio Scale Measurement
Beyond Measurement Scale: Ideational and Empirical Units
The Creation of Archaeological Types
Initial Considerations
Constructing Chronological Types
Chronological Types in Americanist Archaeology
Typological issues Begin to Take Shape
Typology in Retrospect
Seriation I: Historical Continuity, Heritable Continuity, and Phyletic Seriation
What Is Seriation? Seriation in Americanist Archaeology
The Key Assumptions: Historical and Heritable Continuity
Continuity and the Study of Organisms
Tracing Lineages
Detecting Heritable Continuity
Historical Continuity, Heritable Continuity, and the Study of Artifacts
Culture Traits W.M. Flinders Petrie and Artifacts from Egyptian Tombs
John Evans and Gold Coins from Britain
A. V. Kidder and Pottery from Pecos Pueblo
The Gladwin-Colton-Hargrave System
Projectile Point Evolution
Seriation II: Frequency Seriation and Occurrence Seriation
The First Frequency Seriation
How Do Occurrence and Frequency Seriation Work? The Seriation Model
Requirements and Conditions of Seriation
Occurrence Seriation
Frequency Seriation
Meeting the Conditions of the Seriation Model
Temporal Resolution and Rates of Change
Absolute Seriation
A Final Note
Superposition and Stratigraphy: Measuring Time Discontinuously
Strata, Stratigraphy, and Superposition
Stratigraphic Excavation
Stratigraphic Excavation in Historical Context
Early Stratigraphic Excavation
On the Eve of the `Revolution'. The Real Revolution
What Was the Revolution? After the Revolution: Measuring Time with Strata
Measuring Time at Gatecliff Shelter, Nevada
The Final Proof Is in the Spade, But
Cross Dating: The Use of Index Fossils
Folsom and Clovis Points
George C. Vaillant and the Mexican Formative
James A. Ford and the Lower Mississippi Valley
Measuring Time Discontinuously
Final Thoughts on Archaeological Time: A Cash of Two Metaphysics
Measuring Time Continuously
Measuring Time Discontinuously
Concluding Remarks
References
Index
Table of Contents provided by Publisher. All Rights Reserved.

ISBN: 9780306461521
ISBN-10: 0306461528
Audience: General
Format: Hardcover
Language: English
Number Of Pages: 253
Published: 31st July 1999
Publisher: Springer Science+Business Media
Country of Publication: US
Dimensions (cm): 23.98 x 15.49  x 1.96
Weight (kg): 0.54

Earn 408 Qantas Points
on this Book