Luminescence dating archaeology
During the 1970s and 1980s scientists at Simon Frasier University, Canada, developed standard thermoluminescence dating procedures used to date sediments.
In 1985, they also developed optically stimulated luminescence dating techniques, which use laser light, to date sediments.
Most of the energy escapes as heat, but sometimes this energy separates electrons from the molecules that make up the minerals or ceramics.
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).
The microscopic structure of some minerals and ceramics trap nuclear radioactive energy.
This energy is in constant motion within the minerals or sherds.
The “dose rate”, measured in m Gy/a, is determined by combining field and laboratory analyses of the levels of naturally occurring radionuclides and cosmic radiation with an appropriate microdosimetric model for the mineral phase in question.
The luminescence age is estimated from the quotient of “stored dose” over “dose rate”.
Search for luminescence dating archaeology:
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.