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.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.There are two main categories of dating methods in archaeology: indirect or relative dating and absolute dating.Relative dating includes methods that rely on the analysis of comparative data or the context (eg, geological, regional, cultural) in which the object one wishes to date is found.The style of the artefact and its archaeology location stratigraphically are required to arrive at a relative date.For example, if an artefact, say an oil lamp, is found co-located on the same floor of a governor's dwelling, and that floor can be dated in archaeology terms by reason of the patterns employed in the mosaic, then it is assumed that in relation to the floor that the lamp is of the same age.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.
This usually requires what is commonly known as a "dating method".
In other words, artifacts found in the upper layers of a site will have been deposited more recently than those found in the lower layers.
Cross-dating of sites, comparing geologic strata at one site with another location and extrapolating the relative ages in that manner, is still an important dating strategy used today, primarily when sites are far too old for absolute dates to have much meaning.
This approach helps to order events chronologically but it does not provide the absolute age of an object expressed in years.
Relative dating includes different techniques, but the most commonly used are soil stratigraphy analysis and typology.