Chronometric dating can rely upon: 1) historic or written records, 2) non-radiometric scientific studies (such as tree ring, thermoluminescence, or obsidian hydration dating techniques), 3) radiometric analyses (radiocarbon and potassium-argon dating, for example, which rely upon the decay of unstable parent isotopes into stable daughter forms), and 4) biochemical analyses (notably by amino acid dating or isoleucine racemization). (Erv) Taylor is currently Professor of Anthropology and a Research Anthropologist in the Institute of Geophysics and Planetary Physics, but also serves as the Director of the Radiocarbon Laboratory at the University of California at Riverside.
This impressive and well-written volume focuses exclusively upon absolute or chronometric dating techniques and presents an up-to-date wealth of information about methodologies in a dynamic field. Taylor and Aitken, both of whom are established scientists and scholars, are also the editors of the volume being reviewed. His research focuses on the application of dating and analytical techniques in archaeology (the latter known as archaeometry) with an emphasis on radiocarbon dating. Kra of Radiocarbon after Four Decades: An Interdisciplinary Perspective (1992). Aitkin is now Emeritus Professor of Archaeology at Oxford University and was for many years affiliated with Oxford's Research Laboratory for Archaeology and the History of Art.
The individual presentations, in the main, follow a chronological progression, beginning with those techniques developed earliest and concluding with those more recently developed.
In the second section, I furnish a more technical and detailed appraisal of the each of the twelve chapters with comments about those major publications previously regarded by archaeologists as key sources on these specific topics.
Lastly, there is a conclusion that incorporates a general discussion about this volume and its relationship to similar works and the current status of chronometric or "time placement" dating.
Chronometric Dating for the Archaeologist isn't bedtime reading, nor is it for the faint-of-heart, but at the same time one does not have to have a background in materials science or organic or inorganic chemistry to understand the basic premise of the work.
The editors' goal is to present a factual, current, and well-documented evaluation of a dozen of the major techniques that are used by scientists to determine chronology from archaeological artifacts or contexts.
The editors encouraged them to provide a summary of progress in their respective techniques during the past three decades (emphasizing the developments that have taken place within the past five years) and the status of current research.
This group of outstanding international scholars includes an Australian, two Canadians, one Indian, one New Zealander, two authors from the United Kingdom, and 12 contributors from the United States.
The volume's editors have not prepared an overall assessment or written a summary about the status of chronometric dating or its future prospects.
This is not a shortcoming but would make the book even more valuable as a reference and resource.
In essence, the reader is exposed to a history of the refinement of a scientific procedure.