To learn more about pollen analysis, visit the Introduction to Pollen Analysis website designed by P. von Ballmoos, and others at the University of Bern in Switzerland.Packrat Middens: The study of packrat middens – nests full of vegetative debris and cemented together by rodent urine – is a technique for reconstructing vegetation and pollen regimes that is particularly useful in arid environments, including many regions of the Southwest.
Many archeologists specialize in the analysis of specific classes of material, such as ceramics, flaked stone, animal bone, human remains, pollen, soils, charcoal, plant remains, and shell. For example, if a chronometric technique returns the date of 600 B. P., and a 95% chance that the true date falls between 440 B. Dendroclimatology: Dendroclimatology is an accurate, precise, and reliable means of climatic reconstruction that relies on the fact that tree-rings store an annual record of precipitation.
The techniques employed in such analysis are highly specific to the material in question, and undergo constant testing and revision. P., then you have a 67% chance that the true date falls between 520 B. This record is measured by the width of growth rings, and has provided an excellent year-by-year record of the drought and flood cycles affecting prehistoric people in many regions of the Southwest.
Culture history and diffusionism may - with hindsight - seem excessively preoccupied with classification and social evolution, and to have applied unsophisticated historical interpretations instead of asking fundamental questions about human behaviour. Petrie used sequence dating to work back from the earliest historical phases of Egypt into pre-dynastic Neolithic times, using groups of contemporary artefacts deposited together at a single time in graves. The extent of documentation varied considerably in 'historical' cultures and the information that survives is determined by a variety of factors. Applying historical dates to sites If a context containing burnt debris and broken artefacts is excavated on a site from a historical period, it is tempting to search the local historical framework for references to warfare or a disaster in the region, and to date the excavated context accordingly. The first half of the twentieth century witnessed similar progress that began with the dating of recent geological periods in which early hominids lived, and ended with the introduction of radiocarbon dating. Climatostratigraphy While some geologists concentrated on the age of the Earth, others studied distinctive surface traces left behind by changes in the extent of polar ice during the most recent (Quaternary) geological period.
BACKGROUND It is increasingly difficult for prehistorians working in the twenty-first century to conceptualise the problems experienced by their predecessors, and approaches to interpretation before the 1960s are consistently criticised. Classification divides things up for the purposes of description, whereas typology seeks to identify and analyse changes that will allow artefacts to be placed into sequences. Sequence dating and seriation These techniques both place assemblages of artefacts into relative order. HISTORICAL DATING Prehistorians sometimes overestimate the accuracy and detail of frameworks based on historical evidence; in practice, early written sources may provide little more information than a scatter of radiocarbon dates. Geological time-scales Accurate knowledge of the age of the Earth was of little direct help to archaeologists, but it emphasised the potential of scientific dating techniques.
Since the nests are often rebuilt and reused over long periods of time, it is possible to reconstruct local vegetation regimes datable through radiocarbon dating techniques.