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Each decay element has an effective age range, including uranium-238 (100 million to 4.5 billion years) and potassium-40 (100,000 to 4.5 billion years).Other methods that depend on the effects of radioactive decay include fission track dating and thermoluminescence.When archaeologists have access to the historical records of civilizations that had calendars and counted and recorded the passage of years, the actual age of the archaeological material may be ascertained—provided there is some basis for correlating our modern calendar with the ancient calendar.

Since 1950 the physical sciences contributed a number of absolute dating techniques that have had a revolutionary effect on archaeology and geology.

Those laid down during the fall and winter have a dark color because of the presence of dead vegetation; those deposited during the rest of the year have a light color.

The stratigraphy may also reflect seasonal variation in the velocity of stream flow.

All of these techniques have proven somewhat unreliable.

Museums sometimes use them to determine if a ceramic is an antique or a modern forgery.

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