Aitken science based dating in archaeology
The volume's editors have not prepared an overall assessment or written a summary about the status of chronometric dating or its future prospects.This is not a shortcoming but would make the book even more valuable as a reference and resource.
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.Chronometric dating can rely upon: 1) historic or written records, 2) non-radiometric scientific studies (such as tree ring, thermoluminescence, or obsidian hydration dating techniques), 3) radiometric analyses (radiocarbon and potassium-argon dating, for example, which rely upon the decay of unstable parent isotopes into stable daughter forms), and 4) biochemical analyses (notably by amino acid dating or isoleucine racemization). (Erv) Taylor is currently Professor of Anthropology and a Research Anthropologist in the Institute of Geophysics and Planetary Physics, but also serves as the Director of the Radiocarbon Laboratory at the University of California at Riverside.This impressive and well-written volume focuses exclusively upon absolute or chronometric dating techniques and presents an up-to-date wealth of information about methodologies in a dynamic field. Taylor and Aitken, both of whom are established scientists and scholars, are also the editors of the volume being reviewed. His research focuses on the application of dating and analytical techniques in archaeology (the latter known as archaeometry) with an emphasis on radiocarbon dating. Kra of Radiocarbon after Four Decades: An Interdisciplinary Perspective (1992). Aitkin is now Emeritus Professor of Archaeology at Oxford University and was for many years affiliated with Oxford's Research Laboratory for Archaeology and the History of Art.
Basic textbooks on archaeological method and theory relate that there are two methods of establishing chronology: 1) methods of relative dating (ascertaining the correct order of the events) and 2) absolute or chronometric dating (quantifying the measurement of time in terms of years or other fixed units).