Paleomagnetic dating is based on the fact that

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.

For example, JJA Worsaae used this law to prove the Three Age System.

For more information on stratigraphy and how it is used in archaeology, see the Stratigraphy glossary entry.

This is different to relative dating, which only puts geological events in time Most absolute dates for rocks are obtained with radiometric methods.

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These break down over time in a process scientists call radioactive decay.In other words, artifacts found in the upper layers of a site will have been deposited more recently than those found in the lower layers.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.Each original isotope, called the parent, gradually decays to form a new isotope, called the daughter.Each isotope is identified with what is called a ‘mass number’.