Typological dating

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A typology elicits a particular order depending on the purposes of the investigator and on the phenomena so arranged, an order that limits the ways in which the data can be explained.

...typologies, combined with careful stratigraphic work, were used to conceptualize elements changing through time, to fill stratigraphic gaps, and to extrapolate strata.

To date artifacts most accurately, archaeologists need the context in which artifacts lie in the ground to be undisturbed.

This context may then be excavated to find associations between the artifacts and the organic materials required for radiocarbon dating.

Classifications, on the other hand, deal with “natural classes”— with groupings that differ from other groupings in as many particulars as one can discover.

The latter have been considered preliminary to the discovery of sequences or laws.A seriation technique, called sequence dating, based on shared typological features, enabled Sir Flinders Petrie to establish the temporal order of a large number of Egyptian graves.In archaeology a typology is the result of the classification of things according to their physical characteristics. A typology helps to manage a large mass of archaeological data.This idea is the basis for most typological constructions, particularly of stone artefacts where essential forms are often thought of as ‘mental templates’, or combinations of traits that are favoured by the maker.Variation in artifact form and attributes is seen as a consequence of the imperfect realization of the template, and is usually attributed to differences in raw material properties or individuals' technical competences.

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