Example of relative dating methods
This approach helps to order events chronologically but it does not provide the absolute age of an object expressed in years.
Relative dating includes different techniques, but the most commonly used are soil stratigraphy analysis and typology.
Indeed, some items whose exact or approximate age is known are called "diagnostic artifacts." Examples of such objects include very specific stone tools, different pottery styles, objects that belong to a specific period (eg, the historic period or the French regime), coins with a production date, or other items bearing a trademark and whose history can be traced in historical records.
These present many characteristics that are used for comparing them, such as morphology and raw materials in the case of stone tools, and decorative techniques and motifs in the case of ceramics.
Stratigraphy Inspired by geology, stratigraphy uses the principle of the superposition of strata which suggests that, in a succession of undisturbed SOILS, the upper horizons are newer than the lower ones.
Generally, each stratum is isolated in a separate chronological unit that incorporates artifacts.
Stratigraphic dating remains very reliable when it comes to dating objects or events in undisturbed stratigraphic levels.
For example, the oldest human remains known to date in Canada, found at Gore Creek, have been dated using soil stratification.