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The dating of remains is essential in archaeology, in order to place finds in correct relation to one another, and to understand what was present in the experience of any human being at a given time and place.
Inscribed objects sometimes bear an explicit date, or preserve the name of a dated individual. However, only a small number of objects are datable by inscriptions, and there are many specific problems with Egyptian chronology, so that even inscribed objects are rarely datable in absolute terms.
The annual rings vary in size, depending on the weather conditions in each region, but they are similar for all trees of the same area.
If the sequence of rings is know for a certain area it is possible to fit in all new woods found and to date them very precisely.
It was based for decades in nonscientific methods that used stylistic analysis of imagery to establish one-way evolutionary schemes.
Application of scientific methods, also called absolute dating, started to be used in the 1980s and since then has increased more and more its significance, as judged by the large number of papers published in the last two decades on this subject (Rowe Absolute and relative dating methods have been used to establish tentative chronologies for rock art.
Thus, 3700 Tree-ring dating: Most trees produce a ring of new wood each year, visible as circles when looking at the cross section of a piece of wood.
For their own religious and administrative purposes, the Egyptians compiled lists of kings, sometimes with the exact length of reign.
Fragments of such lists survived ('Palermo stone'); none of them is well enough preserved to solve every detail of absolute chronology.
In Egyptology the method was first used by Petrie for dating the Naqada period, from the development of the so-called wavy-handled pottery.
- At least some objects belonging to such a typology should be datable by other criteria to fix a typology into a chronological framework. An object category or motif might develop not regularly but in staccato 'jumps'.
On the one level, events and individuals are placed in an absolute chronology: the exact years and sometimes even months and days of the events and biographies are known.