From observed successions to quantified time: formalizing the basic steps of chronological reasoning


  • Bruno Desachy université Paris 1



This paper is about the chronological reasoning used by field archaeologists. It presents a formalized and computerizable but simple way to make more rigorous and explicit the moving from the stratigraphic relative chronology to the quantified “absolute” time, adding to the usual Terminus Post Quem and Terminus Ante Quem notions an extended system of inaccuracy intervals which limits the beginnings, ends and durations of stratigraphic units and relationships. These intervals may be processed as an inequations system, integrating stratigraphic order relationships and available dating sources. Questions about chronological units grouping, about the differences between stratigraphic time and historical time, about the extension of the exposed chronological frame to historic entities, and about the processing of uncertainties, are discussed. Finally, the present state of computerized tools using this way is briefly indicated.

Author Biography

Bruno Desachy, université Paris 1

conservateur du patrimoine

UMR 7041 ArScan






Research Papers