Chronometric Dating for the Archaeologist isn't bedtime reading, nor is it for the faint-of-heart, but at the same time one does not have to have a background in materials science or organic or inorganic chemistry to understand the basic premise of the work.
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.
This group of outstanding international scholars includes an Australian, two Canadians, one Indian, one New Zealander, two authors from the United Kingdom, and 12 contributors from the United States.
Organizationally, the volume includes an editorial introduction and a preface, twelve topical chapters (varying from 24 to 44 pages in length), and contains 107 figures, 21 tables, and a five-page double-column index.
Each chapter assesses a basic archaeometric technique and each has separate references--a total of 1,307 entries--so that every contribution stands by itself as a very useful synthesis.
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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.
In essence, the reader is exposed to a history of the refinement of a scientific procedure.
All of the chapters present several examples or practical applications that demonstrate the utility of the technique.
The individual presentations, in the main, follow a chronological progression, beginning with those techniques developed earliest and concluding with those more recently developed.
The first contribution is on "Climatostratigraphy" and considers varve analysis and marine sediment and ice core studies used to discern past climatic history and chronology.
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.