Dating by thermoluminescence
The age of the pottery, in principle, may then be determined by the relation Age = Accumulated dose / Dose per year Although conceptually straightforward, TL has proven to to be far from simple in practice. Should I be concerned about artificial irradiation? If the radioactivity of the pottery itself, and its surroundings, is measured, the dose rate, or annual increment of dose, may be computed. By comparing this light output with that produced by known doses of radiation, the amount of radiation absorbed by the material may be found. Most mineral materials, including the constituents of pottery, have the property of thermoluminescence (TL), where part of the energy from radioactive decay in and around the mineral is stored (in the form of trapped electrons) and later released as light upon strong heating (as the electrons are detrapped and combine with lattice ions).The TL laboratory at Daybreak was established in 1977 to make TL available to the art community in general. Studies at Oxford back in the 70s on Romano-British pottery indicated that when all quantities entering the age equation are measured, the TL date of a single potsherd will typically fall within 15 per cent of the known date.When dates of a number of sherds associated together are averaged, the error is reduced typically to 7-10 per cent. The succeeding 30 years, and increased understanding of the dosimetry, have not brought much improvement.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.
By the mid-1960's, its validity as an absolute dating technique was established by workers at Oxford and Birmingham in England, Riso in Denmark, and at the University of Pennsylvania in the U. The Research Laboratory for Archaeology at Oxford, in particular, has played a major role in TL research.Heated stone material, such as hearths, pot boilers, and burnt flints, has been dated as well.Some regions known to present problems for TL include Indonesia and West Mexico; objects from these areas usually do not successfully yield TL dates.This is adequate for the purposes of authentication where the question is whether the piece was fired in antiquity or recently; it will not differentiate, say, between a classic Greek terra cotta and a Roman copy.In some categories of objects, from China, for example, the actual age is quite precisely known for short-lived styles, and it is possible to work "backwards" to get information about the environment in many parts of the world, and some other parameters not usually measurable for art objects.