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The review you are about to read comes to you courtesy of H-Net -- its reviewers, review editors, and publishing staff.
If you appreciate this service, please consider donating to H-Net so we can continue to provide this service free of charge. Translate this review into As a practicing archaeologist who has been cross trained in several of the physical sciences and taught archaeological field methods and laboratory analyses at the university level, I approached an assessment of this work with great anticipation and, at the same time, hesitant caution.
"Dendrochronology" (so-called tree-ring dating) is explicated next, and its nearly world wide applications are reviewed.
The subsequent group of techniques depends upon the physicochemical premise that unstable parent isotopes decay at a known rate and produce stable daughter isotopes.
We could debate the issue whether archaeology is a social science or is a humanities' discipline that employs paradigms, field and laboratory methods, and analytical techniques derived from the natural and physical sciences to verify artifact origins, discern cultural chronology, and interpret or infer human behaviors.
Nonetheless, chronology--the science of measuring time in fixed periods and of dating events and epochs and arranging them in their order of occurrence (e.g., the sequential ordering of events or the tabulations derived from this activity)--is a fundamental component of scientific and humanistic inquiry.
The individual presentations, in the main, follow a chronological progression, beginning with those techniques developed earliest and concluding with those more recently developed.
Background, Context, and General Assessment Research conducted by archaeologists, prehistorians, historians of ancient cultures and civilizations, and art historians, among other scholars and scientists, has, in the main, four primary components: 1) description; 2) location, provenance, or provenience; 3) chronology; and 4) explanation, inference, and/or the testing of hypotheses.Chronometric Dating for the Archaeologist isn't bedtime reading, nor is it for the faint-of-heart, but at the same time one does not have to have a background in materials science or organic or inorganic chemistry to understand the basic premise of the work.The editors' goal is to present a factual, current, and well-documented evaluation of a dozen of the major techniques that are used by scientists to determine chronology from archaeological artifacts or contexts.This is because I am reviewing the volume, in the main, for scholars in the humanities disciplines rather than for scientists; therefore I shall attempt to interest and inform both audiences.Archaeology is, indeed, one of the humanities (so-defined by the United States Congress in 1965), but it is also one that has borrowed paradigms, methods, and analytical techniques, and adopted analogies and inferences from many of the natural, physical, and social sciences, and the humanities.
In the main, each contribution is structured similarly, beginning with an abstract, followed by a brief historical overview, and a discussion of how the technique "works" (including, in most instances, complex physical science discussions and/or mathematical formulae).