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This is the only type of techniques that can help clarifying the actual age of an object.
Absolute dating methods mainly include radiocarbon dating, dendrochronology and thermoluminescence.
Several sets of rings from different trees are matched to build an average sequence.
Subsequently, overlapping series of average sequences from trees that died at different times and come from various sources (ie, the wood of historic buildings, archaeological and fossil woods) are used to build a chronological sequence covering several hundred years which becomes a reference.
However, this method is sometimes limited because the reoccupation of an area may require excavation to establish the foundation of a building, for instance, that goes through older layers.
In this case, even if the foundation of the building is found in the same stratigraphic level as the previous occupation, the two events are not contemporary.
This approach helps to order events chronologically but it does not provide the absolute age of an object expressed in years.
These methods usually analyze physicochemical transformation phenomena whose rate are known or can be estimated relatively well.An initial reading dates the specimen which is then calibrated by considering this date and its correspondence with the measurable level of carbon 14 stored over time in the growth rings of certain tree species, including redwood and pine bristol.