Relative dating is the science of determining the relative order of past events (i.e., the age of an object in comparison to another), without necessarily determining their absolute age, (i.e. In geology, rock or superficial deposits, fossils and lithologies can be used to correlate one stratigraphic column with another.
The most common relative dating method is stratigraphy.
Other methods include fluorine dating, nitrogen dating, association with bones of extinct fauna, association with certain pollen profiles, association with geological features such as beaches, terraces and river meanders, and the establishment of cultural seriations.
The Law of Superposition, which states that older layers will be deeper in a site than more recent layers, was the summary outcome of 'relative dating' as observed in geology from the 17th century to the early 20th century.
The regular order of occurrence of fossils in rock layers was discovered around 1800 by William Smith.
, which was more or less complete long before an absolute time scale was available.