How Archaeologists Tell Time

Archaeology is about telling time.  To be sure, knowledge of the spatial or formal properties of the sites we excavate is important, but if you can’t account for time, you can’t do archaeology.  Historical archaeologists infer time with a number of methods, but it really all comes down to careful artifact inspection and identification.  If the various materials from a given site can be correctly identified and their diagnostic attributes recorded, historical archaeologists can almost always determine occupation periods.