the determination of the chronology of events studied from archaeological data.
Darwin and his contemporaries could never have imagined the improvements in resolution of stratigraphy that have come since 1859, nor guessed what fossils were to be found in the southern continents, nor predicted the huge increase in the number of amateur and professional paleontologists worldwide.
Our understanding of the shape and pattern of the history of life depends on the accuracy of fossils and dating methods.
Some critics, particularly religious fundamentalists, argue that neither fossils nor dating can be trusted, and that their interpretations are better.
Absolute chronology dates events in terms of the generally accepted calendar; relative chronology determines only the sequence of events.
Relative dates are established by stratigraphy and by the typological method.