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relative dating news-49

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.

But this method is also useful in many other disciplines.

Historians, for example, know that Shakespeare's play Henry V was not written before 1587 because Shakespeare's primary source for writing his play was the second edition of Raphael Holinshed's Chronicles, not published until 1587.

Thus, 1587 is the post quem dating of Shakespeare's play Henry V.

The stratigraphy of an archaeological site can be used to date, or refine the date, of particular activities ("contexts") on that site.

For example, if a context is sealed between two other contexts of known date, it can be inferred that the middle context must date to between those dates.

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.

The geologic time scale was initially developed by determining the relative ages of rock units, first in Europe, and then in other parts of the world. To determine which rock units were older and which ones were younger (in a relative sense), geologists devised a number of laws, or principles, to help figure out the sequence of geologic events in a particular locality.