Luminescence Dating in Archaeology, Anthropology, and Geoarchaeology: An Overview

Luminescence Dating in Archaeology, Anthropology, and Geoarchaeology: An Overview

Luminescence dating utilises energy deposited in mineral lattices by naturally occurring ionising radiation to record information encoding chronology, depositional process information, and thermal history records in ceramics, lithics, and sedimentary materials. Precision of dating varies from sample to sample, and from context to context, depending on individual sample characteristics mineralogy, luminescence sensitivity, stability and homogeneity of the radiation environment, and the quality of initial zeroing. A well calibrated laboratory can produce accuracy at the lower end of the precision scale. For high quality work it is important that the environmental gamma dose rates are recorded in-situ at time of excavation, which is most readily facilitated by involving the dating laboratory in fieldwork. The key importance of luminescence dating within Scottish Archaeology lies in the nature of the events represented by the various dating materials. In this respect, and in extending the range of dating materials and questions available, there have significant developments in recent years, and more can be anticipated. TL analysis has the advantage that it can also reveal thermal history information — enabling the thermal exposures of early ceramics, and heated stones to be estimated as a by product of dating. This has provided evidence for fuel poverty in prehistoric island communities in Scotland, and also in a contemporary setting has been used to assist civil engineers with assessing fire damage of modern concrete structures notably the Storebaelt and Channel Tunnel fires.

Luminescence Dating: Applications in Earth Sciences and Archaeology

Luminescence dating refers to a group of methods of determining how long ago mineral grains were last exposed to sunlight or sufficient heating. It is useful to geologists and archaeologists who want to know when such an event occurred. It uses various methods to stimulate and measure luminescence. All sediments and soils contain trace amounts of radioactive isotopes of elements such as potassium , uranium , thorium , and rubidium.

These slowly decay over time and the ionizing radiation they produce is absorbed by mineral grains in the sediments such as quartz and potassium feldspar. The radiation causes charge to remain within the grains in structurally unstable “electron traps”.

The latter were first applied to burned minerals from archaeological artefacts [​thermoluminescence (TL) method]. Improvements of this technique led to the.

Luminescence dating including thermoluminescence and optically stimulated luminescence is a type of dating methodology that measures the amount of light emitted from energy stored in certain rock types and derived soils to obtain an absolute date for a specific event that occurred in the past. The method is a direct dating technique , meaning that the amount of energy emitted is a direct result of the event being measured.

Better still, unlike radiocarbon dating , the effect luminescence dating measures increases with time. As a result, there is no upper date limit set by the sensitivity of the method itself, although other factors may limit the method’s feasibility. To put it simply, certain minerals quartz, feldspar, and calcite , store energy from the sun at a known rate.

This energy is lodged in the imperfect lattices of the mineral’s crystals.

School of Geography and the Environment, University of Oxford

Perhaps the most important task of archaeology is providing a chronology for the material remains that are recovered. Any statements about how and why cultures have changed in the past are predicated on an accurate and precise chronology. Archaeologists have utilized an array of physical methods for determining age, most commonly radiocarbon dating.

Flint and heated rocks – Ceramics and pottery – Unheated rock surfaces – Tooth enamel and quartz grains – Sediment dating.

The field of Luminescence Dating has reached a level of maturity. Both research and applications from all fields of archaeological science, from archaeological materials to anthropology and geoarchaeology, now routinely employ luminescence dating. The advent of optically stimulated luminescence OSL techniques and the potential for exploring a spectrum of grain aliquots enhanced the applicability, accuracy and the precision of luminescence dating.

The present contribution reviews the physical basis, mechanisms and methodological aspects of luminescence dating; discusses advances in instrumentations and facilities, improvements in analytical procedures, and statistical treatment of data along with some examples of applications across continents, covering all periods Middle Palaeolithic to Medieval and both Old and New World archaeology.

They also include interdisciplinary applications that contribute to palaeo-landscape reconstruction. Read more Read less.

Archaeology

This paper aims to provide an overview concerning the optically stimulated luminescence OSL dating method and its applications for geomorphological research in France. An outline of the general physical principles of luminescence dating is given. A case study of fluvial sands from the lower terrace of the Moselle valley is then presented to describe the range of field and laboratory procedures required for successful luminescence dating.

The paper also reviews the place of OSL dating in geomorphological research in France and assesses its potential for further research, by focusing on the diversity of sedimentary environments and topics to which it can be usefully applied. Hence it underlines the increasing importance of the method to geomorphological research, especially by contributing to the development of quantitative geomorphology.

The application of luminescence to dating archaeological or geological materials relies on determining two quantities. The first is the amount of radiation absorbed​.

The stability of luminescence signals stimulated by IR at elevated temperature was first investigated by Thomsen et al. Buylaert et al. Based on studies of the source of the IR stimulated luminescence signal by Murray et al. They applied this revised protocol to samples of Japanese loess, one with age control, and were unable to detect significant signal instability. As a result of these early studies, the feldspar pIRIR signal is now widely used in dating both sand-sized extracts of K-feldspars and polymineral fine-grains Buylaert et al.

Auclair et al.

Luminescence Dating Laboratory

Over the last 60 years, luminescence dating has developed into a robust chronometer for applications in earth sciences and archaeology. The technique is particularly useful for dating materials ranging in age from a few decades to around ,—, years. In this chapter, following a brief outline of the historical development of the dating method, basic principles behind the technique are discussed. This is followed by a look at measurement equipment that is employed in determining age and its operation.

The thermoluminescence emission of crystals was first scientific paper on TL dating of archaeological Nevertheless, few works about luminescence dating.

James K. Feathers, Vance T. Holliday , David J. The Southern High Plains of North America is rich in archaeological sites, but many are not well constrained chronologically, owing to a lack of material for radiocarbon dating. A program of optically stimulated luminescence OSL dating, applying mainly single-grain analyses, was therefore initiated. Many samples have independent age estimates from radiocarbon to check the OSL results, but OSL age estimates are also provided for those sites that otherwise lack secure chronological control.

Sediment samples for OSL were obtained primarily from Paleoindian and Archaic localities, though include deposits of more recent age. Through the analysis of single grains, equivalent dose-the numerator of the age equation-is evaluated independently on numerous grains. The distribution of these values is relatively broad for some samples, and this is attributed to post-depositional mixing. Mixing is also evident in some samples with more narrow distributions.

Selecting portions of the mixed distributions for age determination allows more accurate dating for some samples, but the nature of the distributions limits the resolution on others, conclusions that cannot be as easily drawn from multi-grain analysis. Where independent age control is available, most OSL results broadly conform; however, some samples show discrepancies that are not readily explained, but may relate to association or dose rate problems. This underscores the desirability of obtaining where possible suites of chronological evidence.

Optically stimulated luminescence dating of Southern High Plains archaeological sites.

Luminescence Dating

Luminescence dating is an absolute radiometric method of determining the age of a material since a key event in its history – typically burial in the case of sediments or firing in the case of ceramics or burnt stone. When a geological sediment is buried, the effects of the incoming solar radiation are removed. With this bleaching effect removed, the influence, albeit often weak, of naturally-occurring radioactive elements primarily potassium, uranium and thorium within the sediment together with incoming cosmic rays results in the accumulation of a signal within individual mineral grains most commonly quartz and feldspars.

It is this signal that is the key to luminescence dating techniques. Given an estimate of the rate of received ionizing radiation the dose rate, or D , and knowing the total accumulated dose the palaeodose; designated D E it is possible to derive an age since burial. This is obtained from the formula:.

Half a century after the publication of the first Thermoluminescence (TL) ages, the field of Luminescence Dating has reached a level of maturity.

Luminescence dating is underutilized in American archaeology given the theoretical advantages of direct dating that it confers. Recent advances in understanding the physical processes underlying the method have also made it more reliable as a dating tool. This research as well as potential applications is reviewed. This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access. Rent this article via DeepDyve.

Adams, J. The geochemistry of thorium and uranium. Physics and Chemistry of the Earth 3 : — Aitken, M. Thermoluminescence Dating , Academic Press, London. Google Scholar.

4. Luminescence Dating of Archaeological Materials

Williams, A. Journal of Archaeological Science: Reports, Here we present the results of a multi-phase compliance-based archaeological excavations of a new bridge crossing the Hawkesbury-Nepean River northwest Sydney. These works identified a Last Glacial Maximum LGM aeolian deposit through which a colonial era drainage system had been excavated.

Historical documents reveal the construction of the system occurred between and CE.

Luminescence dating is a chronological method that has been used extensively in archaeology and the earth sciences. It is based on the emission of light.

Luminescence dating, particularly using optically stimulated luminescence OSL , is revolutionizing Quaternary and archaeological science because it allows dating of sediments and artifacts that perhaps 10 years ago could not be dated. The lab has produced more than OSL ages from years to , years for aeolian, fluvial, lacustrine, and marine sediments, as well as pottery, artifacts and secondary carbonate.

Chronologies have been developed for archaeological sites in Botswana and the U. As the OSL of a sediment is quickly lost when exposed to sunlight tens of seconds many sediments are bleached lack an OSL signal when deposited and buried. After deposition these sediments accumulate luminescence which can be measured allowing the age of burial to be determined. There is now convincing evidence that many glacial, fluvial, aeolian, and even shallow marine sediments can be dated by OSL techniques.

The upper limit of age by OSL is largely determined by the annual dose on the sediment which is related to it’s content of uranium, thorium and potassium. Low levels of radioactive isotopes in the sediment lead to very slow saturation of quartz and feldspar grains by released electrons and so ages in excess of ka may be possible. Your gift is important to us and helps support critical opportunities for students and faculty alike, including lectures, travel support, and any number of educational events that augment the classroom experience.

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Silvia Leonor Lagorio. Georg Gotz. Manuel Enrique Pardo Echarte. Agnes Sachse.

The Southern High Plains of North America is rich in archaeological sites, but A program of optically stimulated luminescence (OSL) dating, applying mainly.

Thermoluminescence can be broken into two words: Thermo , meaning head and Luminescence , meaning an emission of light. It essentially means that some materials that have accumulated energy over a long period of time will give off some light when exposed to high heat. Ceramics are made from geological material, inorganic material, right? They use clay and sand and a bunch of other stuff from the ground to make these pieces. And all these geological things contain radiation.

Materials that are used for pottery are crystalline when you look at them under the microscope, and they essentially form this lattice pattern or net when all the atoms are bonded together. When the atoms in this lattice are exposed to nuclear radiation, individual electrons in get all hopped up on this energy and become detached. They then become trapped in lattice defects, which are caused by missing atoms, or from the presence of impurities in the mix.

This is why we call them electron traps!

The application of luminescence dating in American archaeology

Luminescence dating depends on the ability of minerals to store energy in the form of trapped charge carriers when exposed to ionising radiation. Stimulation of the system, by heat in the case of thermoluminescence TL , or by light in the case of photo-stimulated luminescence PSL , or optically stimulated luminescence OSL. Following an initial zeroing event, for example heating of ceramics and burnt stones, or optical bleaching of certain classes of sediments, the system acquires an increasing luminescence signal in response to exposure to background sources of ionising radiation.

Luminescence dating is based on quantifying both the radiation dose received by a sample since its zeroing event, and the dose rate which it has experienced during the accumulation period.

Optical dating is an umbrella term for an armada of acronyms, the most common in archaeological contexts being. OSL (optically stimulated luminescence), TT-.

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Luminescence generation



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