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In Egyptology the method was first used by Petrie for dating the Naqada period, from the development of the so-called wavy-handled pottery.- At least some objects belonging to such a typology should be datable by other criteria to fix a typology into a chronological framework. An object category or motif might develop not regularly but in staccato 'jumps'.C-14 dates are often published as dates 'before present' (the 'present' was fixed for analytical reasons at a single point, and the year AD 1950 was chosen for this) with the indication of the inaccuracy.Thus, 3700 Tree-ring dating: Most trees produce a ring of new wood each year, visible as circles when looking at the cross section of a piece of wood.

It is increasingly difficult for prehistorians working in the twenty-first century to conceptualise the problems experienced by their predecessors, and approaches to interpretation before the 1960s are consistently criticised.

The facility to correlate an event or episode with an absolute point in time is crucial in solving many archaeological problems.

A variety of methods can be used to establish chronology in archaeology.

For a long period in the 20th century Egyptian and Near Eastern chronology seemed to be the earliest of absolute chronologies, and imports from these areas were used to reconstruct the chronology of European prehistory.

With the introduction of objective quantifiable methods such as dendrochronology and Carbon-14 dating, over the past half century, European and North American archaeology have developed independent and more reliable chronologies, that often make it possible to date more precisely than in Egypt. For Egypt absolute year dates can only be established back to the beginning of the Late Period, from links to Greek chronology, and then from Assyrian king-lists and other Near Eastern sources, back to the Ramesside Period (still debated). The Egyptians dated by the year of reign of the king on the throne (for example 'year 3 of king X').

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