Example of relative dating
The stratigraphy of an archaeological site can be used to date, or refine the date, of particular activities ("contexts") on that site.
For example, if a context is sealed between two other contexts of known date, it can be inferred that the middle context must date to between those dates.
For a non-exhaustive list of relative dating methods and relative dating applications used in geology, paleontology or archaeology, see the following: Same as geologists or paleontologists, archaeologists are also brought to determine the age of ancient materials, but in their case, the areas of their studies are restricted to the history of both ancient and recent humans.
Thus, to be considered as archaeological, the remains, objects or artifacts to be dated must be related to human activity.
In this relative dating method, Latin terms ante quem and post quem are usually used to indicate both the oldest and the most recent possible moments when an event occurred or an artifact was left in a stratum.
But this method is also useful in many other disciplines.
For example, in a stratum presenting difficulties or ambiguities to absolute dating, paleopalynology can be used as a relative referent by means of the study of the pollens found in the stratum.
Thus, 1587 is the post quem dating of Shakespeare's play Henry V.
Relative dating is a less advanced technique as compared to absolute dating.
In relative dating, mostly the common sense principles are applied, and it is told that which artifact or object is older than the other one.
As an example Pinnacle Point's caves, in the southern coast of South Africa, provided evidence that marine resources (shellfish) have been regularly exploited by humans as of 170,000 years ago.
On the other hand, remains as recent as a hundred years old can also be the target of archaeological dating methods.In addition, because of its particular relation with past human presence or past human activity, archaeology uses almost all the dating methods that it shares with the other sciences, but with some particular variations, like the following: Seriation is a relative dating method (see, above, the list of relative dating methods).