Aitken's own 1990 work may be the last volume of its type to have sole authorship.
Therefore, Taylor and Aitken assembled 19 of the world's leading experts on a dozen aspects of archaeological dating method and theory.
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.
Interested readers and science-oriented scholars may wish to read all three parts; casual readers will benefit from perusing the first and third sections.
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.
Relative dating may be derived from sequence dating through seriation (changes in artifact form, function, or style through time), by stratigraphic analysis (geological stratigraphy based upon the "Law of Superposition"), and by cross dating.
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.
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.
The editors encouraged them to provide a summary of progress in their respective techniques during the past three decades (emphasizing the developments that have taken place within the past five years) and the status of current research.