Advantages and disadvantages of thermoluminescence dating

Working out how old archaeological remains are is a vital part of archaeology.

Scientific dating has confirmed the long residence of Aboriginal people in Australia.

It uses the fact that natural carbon contains a known ratio of ordinary carbon and the radioactive isotope carbon-14, and that this mix is reflected in carbon taken up by living organic materials such as wood, shells and bones.

When organisms die, the carbon-14 begins to decay at a known rate.

Artefacts and other materials can be dated in relative terms by observing which layer of sediments they are found in.

This applies the geological principle that under normal circumstances younger layers of sediment will be deposited on top of older layers.

Fieldwork (within Southern England) including in-situ radioactivity measurements, sample collection and travel to and from site can be undertaken at a daily rate of £300 VAT.

We are also able to conduct sample collection outside of the UK if the client is willing to cover additional transport, accommodation and subsistence costs.

When the grain is exposed to intense light of particular wavelengths in the laboratory, it emits a light signal with an intensity proportional to the radiation it has absorbed while buried.The particular advantage of luminescence dating is that the method provides a date for the archaeological artefact or deposit itself, rather than for organic material in assumed association.In the case of OSL sediment dating, suitable material (sand or silt-sized grains of quartz and feldspar) is usually available ubiquitously throughout the site.The error limits on the dates obtained are typically in the range of 5 to 10%.Our standard cost for OSL dating is £550 VAT per sample but prices can vary depending on the nature and number of samples (see our schedule of charges).

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Optical dating, also known as optically stimulated luminescence (OSL), dates the last time mineral sediments (usually quartz or feldspar grains ) were exposed to sunlight.

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