One way ceramics are used to calculate the average date of a site’s occupation is to find a mean of all the midpoints of the periods of manufacture for the excavated ceramic sherds.
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For example, if you had a handful of coins from a particular layer, dated 1750, 1775, 1800, and 1802, the TPQ (or ) is 1802.
In other words, the layer could not have formed until after that 1802 coin was created.
The size and shape of the bowl changed over time, making it a useful tool for dating. Harrington, who worked at Jamestown, looked at bowls that still had part or all of the pipe stem attached.
Except bowls are not found as often as pipe stems, which occur in abundance on sites. By analyzing the data, Harrington determined that the diameter of the pipe stem became smaller over time, unlocking a great tool for dating. Check out this chart to see the date ranges for each pipe stem diameter: To make use of the above chart, you first have to identify the diameter of the pipe stem in question.
This change in diameter may have occurred because pipe stems became longer through time, requiring a smaller bore.
Louis Binford later devised a mathematical formula to refine Harrington's method (Deetz 19).
Dates allow archeologists to connect a site/deposit to a specific time period, allowing us a better understanding of the past.
Historical archeologists have an advantage when it comes to dating because of the written historical record.
Sadly, the majority of artifacts are not stamped with their date of manufacture.
Instead, archeologists have to be a bit more creative.
Also provided are two other TPQ measures, TPQ95 and TPQ90.