Thermoluminescence Dating of Pottery

pottery

The dating of pottery artifacts can be accurately performed by using a technique referred to as “thermoluminescence”. Thermoluminescence involves taking a small sample of an artifact of pottery and heating it up using doses of high energy radiation which creates excited electron states in crystalline materials like pottery. In some materials, these electron states are trapped or arrested for extended periods of time by a localized defect, or imperfection. In terms of the quantum world, these states are stationary states which have no formal time dependence, however they are not stable energetically and when the material is heated it enables these trapped energy states to interact with photons to rapidly decay into lower energy states, causing the emission of photons in the process. The photons are measured and dependent of how many escape, a specified measurement of the total age can be determined. This technique can be used on most minerals and is the only method available to provide exact dating in respect to pottery as the results yielded do not have to be compared against a comparison artifact. Certain minerals store energy from the sun at a known rate and this energy is lodged in the imperfect lattices of a mineral’s crystals. Heating these crystals when creating pottery empties the stored energy reserves, after which time the mineral begins absorbing energy again. Thermoluminescence dating is a matter of comparing the current energy stored in a crystal to what should be there had not pottery not been heated during the creation process thereby establishing a “last heated during” marker or date

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s