An example of radiocarbon dating

Relative dating methods are unable to determine the absolute age of an object or event, but can determine the impossibility of a particular event happening before or after another event of which the absolute date is well known.

In this relative dating method, Latin terms ante quem and post quem are usually used to indicate both the oldest and the most recent possible moments when an event occurred or an artifact was left in a stratum.

Several dating methods exist, depending on different criteria and techniques, and some very well known examples of disciplines using such techniques are, for example, history, archaeology, geology, paleontology, astronomy and even forensic science, since in the latter it is sometimes necessary to investigate the moment in the past in which the death of a cadaver occurred.On the other hand, remains as recent as a hundred years old can also be the target of archaeological dating methods.It was the case of an 18th-century sloop whose excavation was led in South Carolina (United States) in 1992.Dating is carried out mainly post excavation, but to support good practice, some preliminary dating work called "spot dating" is usually run in tandem with excavation.Dating is very important in archaeology for constructing models of the past, as it relies on the integrity of dateable objects and samples.

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  1. Indeed, the most southerly point in mainland Britain was located in Cornwall – the Lizard, so too the most westerly point – Land's End. We settled our luggage back into the room and used the facilities to refresh ourselves.