Seriation is a relative dating method in which assemblages or artifacts from numerous sites, in the same culture, are placed in chronological order. Seriation has a rich history in archeology. Petrie (1899) was the first to use seriation as a formal method. He applied it to find a chronological order for graves discovered in the Nile area given objects found there.
You should read the Wikipedia article for a detailed explanation of
seriation in archaeology.
Here’s just the technical part, with some hints at using the
seriation package for seriation and generation of plots.
Describing your data
The simplest form of seriation is when your data are just presence/absence information, e.g. presence of a particular artifact inside a tomb burial.