Are radiometric dating methods reliable
Dating material drawn from the archaeological record can be made by a direct study of an artifact, or may be deduced by association with materials found in the context the item is drawn from or inferred by its point of discovery in the sequence relative to datable contexts.
Dating is carried out mainly post excavation, but to support good practice, some preliminary dating work called "spot dating" is usually run in tandem with excavation.
The stratigraphy of an archaeological site can be used to date, or refine the date, of particular activities ("contexts") on that site.
For example, if a context is sealed between two other contexts of known date, it can be inferred that the middle context must date to between those dates.
This is admitted because of the simple reason that some botanical species, whether extinct or not, are well known as belonging to a determined position in the scale of time.
So, we have a “clock” which starts ticking the moment something dies.
Obviously, this works only for things which were once living.
For a non-exhaustive list of relative dating methods and relative dating applications used in geology, paleontology or archaeology, see the following: Same as geologists or paleontologists, archaeologists are also brought to determine the age of ancient materials, but in their case the areas of their studies are restricted to the history of both ancient and recent humans.
Thus, to be considered as archaeological, the remains, objects or artifacts to be dated must be related to human activity.