Dating methods in Archaeology. Are they accurate? | Ancient Origins
The phenomenon of thermoluminescence was first described by the English chemist While not so accurate as radiocarbon dating, which cannot date pottery. Better still, unlike radiocarbon dating, the effect luminescence dating measures Artifacts which can be dated using these methods include ceramics, burned Thermoluminescence was first clearly described in a paper. Download Citation on ResearchGate | The reliability of thermoluminescence dating: A pilot The accuracy of thermoluminescence dating of pottery was tested by utilizing .. The first thermoluminescence (TL) dates of pottery from aRamayana.
Relative techniques can determine the sequence of events but not the precise date of an event, making these methods unreliable. These methods are based on calculating the date of artefacts in a more precise way using different attributes of materials. This method includes carbon dating and thermoluminescence. The first method was based on radioactive elements whose property of decay occurs at a constant rate, known as the half-life of the isotope.
Today, many different radioactive elements have been used, but the most famous absolute dating method is radiocarbon dating, which uses the isotope 14C. This isotope, which can be found in organic materials and can be used only to date organic materials, has been incorrectly used by many to make dating assumptions for non-organic material such as stone buildings.
Dating methods in Archaeology. Are they accurate?
The half-life of 14C is approximately years, which is too short for this method to be used to date material millions of years old. The isotope of Potassium, which has a half-life of 1. Another absolute dating method is thermoluminescence, which dates the last time an item was heated.
It is the only method that can be used to date rocks, pottery and minerals for dates that are approximately between to 10, years old.
This method is based on the fact that when a material is heated or exposed to sunlight, electrons are released and some of them are trapped inside the item. Some of these are quite easy to detect; some quite difficult. For example figures, normally modeled, may be carved out of brick or assembled out of fragments. It must be realized that TL dating is but one of the criteria for judging authenticity.
The expertise of the conservator may be of equal or greater importance in many cases. Some problem areas include Northern Nigerian ceramics, especially Nok, which are becoming quite scarce. Ife ceramics are virtually all fake or stolen, if genuine!
TL dating-frequently asked questions, TL authenticity dating, thermoluminescence dating
New Nigerian and Asian bronzes may have introduced old cores, so it is imperative that the interface between metal and core be examined very carefully before the assumption can be made that the age of the bronze is the age of the core.
Chinese unglazed ceramics constructed from fragments or carved from brick are a particular concern. Glazed objects generally cannot be pieced together in this way without re-firing which would defeat the purposebut be sure the glaze is glass and not a synthetic resin!
Often we recommend radiography of objects to ascertain the state of restoration before proceeding with sampling.
We reserve the right not to sample and date an object based on concerns about tampering. Since the TL age is proportional to radiation dose, it is logical to be concerned about the effect of airport security x-rays and radiography done to examine the object.
In general it is not a problem. Airport security x-rays devices use very high sensitivity detectors so that the x-ray dose is in fact quite small, perhaps adding a week or month to the age, well below the uncertainty of dating. Radiography, if many films are taken, may be more of a problem, so we recommend that samples be taken prior to exposure.
It may also be possible to compute an approximate correction, but in almost every case the effect is small. Due to concerns about bioterrorism in the wake of the events of this past autumn, the US Postal Service has begun limited sterilization of mail by electron beam. This will destroy the dose information carried in the pottery and rendered it unsuitable for TL dating.
There have been rumors circulating lately about recently fired Chinese pottery being artificially irradiated to circumvent TL dating. While this is certainly something we watch for, there is little real cause for concern. There are several reasons why this dose tampering is difficult to impossible to achieve successfully.
First, it is difficult to get the dose right without considerable research into the properties of the clay and access to expertise in TL measurements.
Second, it is very difficult to get that dose sufficiently uniform over the extent of the entire object. It also and obviously requires a sophisticated means of irradiation, not easily available here, let alone in China. There are many considerations that we will not detail so as not to offer 'aid and comfort to the enemy'.
The 'impossible' part is that different size grains in the clay actually have different doses in a naturally irradiated ceramic, but will have the same dose in the artificially irradiated example. This fortunate phenomenon is due to the heterogeneity of pottery clays, which are a mixture of fine grains silt and coarser grains sandy inclusions.
The radiation dose we measure in the lab is due to a mix of different kinds of radiation: The major part of the natural radiation dose is due to alpha particles, and the alpha emitting nuclides--uranium and thorium and their daughters--are primarily found in the fine grains. Because of this, the fine grains have the maximum dose, while the larger sandy grains have that dose only on their surface, and a considerably smaller dose in their interior.
If the different size grains are measured, and the dose is found to be the same, there is good evidence of dose tampering, and the converse is true as well. When all these considerations are taken together, it is extremely difficult to get an artificially dosed object past routine TL dating.
Given the quantity of older pottery available in China, your concerns should be directed more toward pastiches and assembly of new objects out of old fragments. There is one problem area, however, and that is porcelain. This material is so high fired that it actually becomes a glass with small islands of quartz usually remaining which makes TL dating of porcelains possible. It is unfortunately not practical at this time to do differential dosimetry on porcelain, and it becomes more difficult to tell for certain when irradiation has been attempted.
When the TL test is for routine authentication, a sample of about mg, roughly a third the volume of a pencil-end eraser, is drilled out of an inconspicuous part of the object with a carbide dental burr. If the object is extremely small, the amount of sample may be reduced, but the error margin may increase. It is sometimes preferable to obtain a fragment a half-inch in diameter and a quarter-inch thick, as the precision attainable is greater.
This is advisable whenever the age, if genuine, is less than twice the age of the earliest forgeries. If the object to be tested has been restored, it may be advisable to take more than one sample, as the component parts may differ in age.
For heavily restored objects, or those where construction from diverse fragments is suspected, we have taken up to ten samples there will be a modest increase in the fee for samples in excess of two.
Sampling does not lessen the value of a piece; indeed, confirmation of authenticity by TL generally enhances an object's value and saleability considerably.
The site of the samples may easily be restored if desired. First, you should contact Daybreak to discuss the advisability of testing and to arrange sample-taking. We make occasional trips to New York City for this purpose; travel elsewhere is by arrangement. One photo is retained in our files for reference; the other is annotated with the result, signed, and returned with the test result. Polaroid snapshots are adequate; it is necessary only that the object be readily identifiable from its picture.
If the sample is taken by anyone other than Daybreak or its representative, it is recommended that the sampling be witnessed as provided for on the Sample Submission formasserting that the sample is indeed from the object depicted in the photographs.
The sample-taker must sign both photos. It is extremely important to note whether the object is known or is suspected to have been exposed to x-rays or neutrons, as this could alter the results.
Exposure to airport security x-rays does not present any problem. Also, if the piece has been heated for some purpose during restoration, the TL result may be affected. In either case, consultation is required to determine whether the object can be accepted for test.
Please be assured that all information about objects submitted is held in the strictest confidence. We also have conservators and restorers located throughout the country who can take samples for us at an additional charge.
We recommend registered mail as a means of shipment, as the cost of insurance is very reasonable. Please consult us about packing methods. Usually test results are available verbally within three weeks after the sample arrives at Daybreak, with the written report to follow.
Rush service as soon as the next day may be available at a premium, if our schedule permits. A large number of samples submitted as a group may take longer. There may be a modest extra change for a larger number of samples.