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These tell him the environmental conditions in which the people he is studying lived; he now sees his material remains not as isolated artifacts but in the context of their original environments.
In the excavation of a great tell like Ur or Troy the relative chronology of the various levels of occupation is the first thing to be established.
Recognized as a valuable technique by French scientists in the 19th century, it was developed in England by K. For a long time archaeologists searched for an absolute chronology that went beyond this and could turn their relative chronologies into absolute dates.
Clay-clay left behind by the melting glaciers when the European Ice Age came to an end. The application of this method to archaeology depends, obviously, on the use in antiquity of old datable trees in the construction of houses and buildings.
For the prehistoric period, which now appears to stretch from 2,000,000 years ago to about 3000 , archaeological evidence is the only source of knowledge about human activities.
But prehistoric remains have always been the most difficult to interpret, precisely because there are no written records to aid in the task.