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The most popular method of radio dating is radio carbon dating which is possible because of the presence of C-14, an unstable isotope of carbon.
C-14 has a half life of 5730 years which means that only half of the original amount is left in the fossil after 5730 years while half of the remaining amount is left after another 5730 years.
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.The scholar most associated with the rules of stratigraphy (or law of superposition) is probably the geologist Charles Lyell.The basis for stratigraphy seems quite intuitive today, but its applications were no less than earth-shattering to archaeological theory.It is clear then that absolute dating is based upon physical and chemical properties of artifacts that provide a clue regarding the true age.This is possible because properties of rock formations are closely associated with the age of the artifacts found trapped within them.
First used, and likely invented by archaeologist Sir William Flinders-Petrie in 1899, seriation (or sequence dating) is based on the idea that artifacts change over time.