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Dating material drawn from the archaeological record can be made by a direct study of an artifact, or may be deduced by association with materials found in the context the item is drawn from or inferred by its point of discovery in the sequence relative to datable contexts.
Dating is carried out mainly post excavation, but to support good practice, some preliminary dating work called "spot dating" is usually run in tandem with excavation.
Flinders Petrie excavated at Diospolis Parva in Egypt in the late nineteenth century.
Dating is very important in archaeology for constructing models of the past, as it relies on the integrity of dateable objects and samples.
Many disciplines of archaeological science are concerned with dating evidence, but in practice several different dating techniques must be applied in some circumstances, thus dating evidence for much of an archaeological sequence recorded during excavation requires matching information from known absolute or some associated steps, with a careful study of stratigraphic relationships.
It was the case of an 18th-century sloop whose excavation was led in South Carolina (United States) in 1992.
Thus, from the oldest to the youngest, all archaeological sites are likely to be dated by an appropriate method.
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In addition, because of its particular relation with past human presence or past human activity, archaeology uses almost all the dating methods that it shares with the other sciences, but with some particular variations, like the following: Seriation is a relative dating method (see, above, the list of relative dating methods).