Luminescence dating archaeology

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.For heated materials both thermoluminescence (TL) and Optically Stimulated Luminescence (OSL) can be applied.The age range of luminescence dating extends from modern samples ( years, thus covering all periods of known human occupation of Scotland, and much of the Palaeolithic elsewhere.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).The recognition in the early 1980’s that luminescence signals could be zeroed by light exposure has led to the development of photostimulated luminescence (PSL) or Optically Stimulated Luminescence (OSL) methods and associated instrumentation which have dramatically enhanced the potential chronometers for studying archaeological sites and landscapes.

The ability to date clean wind-blown sand layers in archaeological landscapes and sequences provide important opportunities to examine human-environment interactions, and in particular the impact of past storminess on early communities.But these approaches may hold new opportunities for dating lithic monuments such as standing stones, chambered tombs or other built monuments which can currently only be placed into their cultural and chronological contexts using indirect means.They may also provide a means of enhancing understanding of the duration of use of portable stone objects (including handaxes) prior to deposition within archaeological sites and landscapes.Within Scotland this has been used to date, for example the re-setting of the Hilton of Cadboll stone, and other monuments in Orkney including the ditch-fills of the Ring of Brodgar within the World Heritage Site in Orkney.On the international scene, researchers based in Scotland have used these methods to provide the first dates for ancient canals in the early rice cultivating empires of SE Asia, and to understand the dynamics of incised features within Neolithic sites in the Mediterranean and Southern Italy.

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