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Limits to relative dating are that it cannot provide an accurate year or a specific date of use.
The age of the fossil must be determined so it can be compared to other fossil species from the same time period.
Understanding the ages of related fossil species helps scientists piece together the evolutionary history of a group of organisms.
After death the amount of carbon-14 in the organic specimen decreases very regularly as the molecules decay.
When museums and collectors purchase archaeological items for their collections they enter an expensive and potentially deceptive commercial fine arts arena.
By examining the object's relation to layers of deposits in the area, and by comparing the object to others found at the site, archaeologists can estimate when the object arrived at the site.