Dating an Historic Site

We're not archaeologists or scientists or anything like that, but we're curious as heck. One thing we constantly ask ourselves is, "When are we going to eat?

The other thing we constantly ask ourselves is, "How old is this place?"

The process is fairly simple, and then again, not. You look for man-made stuff. You find man-made stuff. You determine when the stuff was made. The oldest stuff you find should indicate the age of the site.

For instance, you find a 1968 quarter and a 1910 quarter. You can pretty much bet that the site dates at least from the beginning of the twentieth century. It could be older, of course, since that 1910 quarter could have been old when it was lost. And, some contemporary explorer could have brought his 1910 coin collection with him yesterday and lost it. But it's a safe assumption that the site is at least as old as the artifact.

Now, your chances of finding things with dates stamped on them are sparse, so you have to do a little detective work.

Look around you. Are there cans? What kind of cans are they? Certain cans were manufactured at different times. Did they use plywood? Plywood wasn't commercially available in the middle of the 1800's, so you know what you're looking at came after that. Welds? Concrete? Same thing.

To help confuse the issue, many sites were worked over periods of time, abandoned, revived, abandoned, and revived, only to be abandoned again. Nevada has had many boom/bust periods and as mineral prices went, so went mining. So you may have a site like, say, Aurora, that was active in the 1860s' again in the 1920's, and again even recently. All that time, miners and prospectors were scurrying about, leaving clues and artifacts for you to find.

Below is a small list of when certain things came into general use, which should help you date what you're looking at.

Nevada Mining History
Cycle      Period            Date
EARLY    discovery         1849-1868
         prosperity        1869-1880
         decline           1881-1891
         depression        1892-1899

LATE     discovery         1900-1907
         prosperity        1908-1918
         decline           1919
         partial recovery  1924
         war increases     1939
         post-war relative
         prosperity        1946-1954

Source- An Outline of the Mining History of the State of Nevada, 1924, F.C. Lincoln, Outline of Nevada Mining History, Nevada Bureau of Mines and Geology, 1993.


Patented - 1865
Commercially available -1905
Begins widespread use - 1930
Use in home manufacturing- 1940
Source - APA-The Engineered Wood Association


1st structures built - 5600 BC
Concrete blocks manufactured - 1868
1st reinforced concrete bridge - 1889
Cement tests standardized - 1900
1st concrete homes in US - 1908
Source - Dee Concrete Accessories

Arc Welding
Patented - 1885
Lincoln makes 1st portable welder - 1911
Source - Lincoln Electric
Gas Welding
Acetylene Welding Perfected - 1900
Source - About.com
Can introduced in USA - 1818
Mass Production - 1849
Side Seam Cans - 1877
Hole-in-cap replaced by crimped top - 1920
Carbonated soft drink canning - 1938
Aluminum beverage cans - 1965
Ring Pull Can Opener - 1959
Non-detachable Tab Opener
- 1975
Source - Can Central
Round Nails
Square nails - up to 1900
Round nails - 1890
Source - Nails: Clues to a Building's History
Too complex- see web site
Source - Bottle Dating






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