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The emergence of man through the process of biological and cultural evolution is a story of long span of time.
For the archaeologist and the prehistorian who deals with that long history of man, time is the most important consideration.
In fact, chronology is one of the most fundamental issues in and perhaps a characteristic of archaeology.
Luminescence Dating Geologists and archeologists use luminescence dating by observing photons, or light, emitted from minerals such as quartz, diamond, feldspar and calcite.
This technique is useful to about 9,000 years ago for samples from the western United States using overlapping tree-ring series from living and dead wood.
The Earth's orbital motions (inclination of the earth's axis on its orbit with respect to the sun, gyroscopic precession of the earth's axis every 26,000 years; free precession every 440 days, precession of earth orbit and orbital variations such as perihelion precession every 19,000 and 23,000 years) leave traces visible in the geological record.
Trees usually add growth rings on a yearly basis, with the spacing of rings being wider in high growth years and narrower in low growth years.
Patterns in tree-ring growth can be used to establish the age of old wood samples, and also give some hints to local climatic conditions.