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Method to OUr Madness: GRA's Many Forms of Analysis

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Geoarcheology Research Associates (GRA), an archaeological firm dedicated to scientifc analysis, emplys may different mehtoda when preserving and examining artifacts. A broad range of analytical methods are used to pursue our research goals. Among the variety of methoda of analysis used, seriation and dendrochronology are highlighted below.

Seriation and chronological analysis involve the classification of object types (e.g. pipes, nails, textiles, glass, ceramics) based on temporal characteristics. Frequency seriation is an appropriate method for deriving a chronological order of assemblages. This method can isolate both temporal and nontemporal sources of variation. Mean ceramic dating creates absolute (rather than relative) chronologies by seriating ages of ceramics; mean ages of pottery sherds from specific excavation units are sequenced vertically. This technique can be used to date the site based on the average age of recovered ceramic. A mean ceramic date (MCD) provides a weighted average of manufacturing dates and does not indicate a range of occupation.

Dendrochronology provides absolute and relative dates for wooden artifacts and features that retain intact sequences of growth rings. The precise year that a tree was cut down can be determined using dendrochronological methods. In addition, dendrochronology can furnish abundant information about past climates, past environments and human activities. By identifying the region from which the trees originally came, dendrochronology registers, to some degree, transitions in forest cover and preferred procurement and selection strategies of building materials (i.e. along the shoreline and for fencing of local households) . Furthermore, this analysis can provide information on trade connections.

These forms of analysis assist in dating and understand each archaeological site within it's own context. For further information, please see GRA's blog: trowelpoints.wordpress.com

Be sure to check out our latest post on NSF funding and #WhyArchMatters!

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