Direct dating archeology

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Luminescence dating is good for between a few hundred to (at least) several hundred thousand years, making it much more useful than carbon dating.

The term luminescence refers to the energy emitted as light from minerals such as quartz and feldspar after they've been exposed to an ionizing radiation of some sort.

During the 1960s and 70s, the Oxford University Research Laboratory for Archaeology and History of Art led in the development of TL as a method of dating archaeological materials.

, Professor David Pearce, Director of the Rock Art Research Institute at the University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, Adelphine Bonneau of Laval University, and colleagues at the University of Oxford showed that paintings in south-eastern Botswana are at least 5,500 years old, whilst paintings in Lesotho and the Eastern Cape Drakensberg, South Africa, date as far back as 3,000 years.

Thermoluminescence was first clearly described in a paper presented to the Royal Society (of Britain) in 1663, by Robert Boyle, who described the effect in a diamond which had been warmed to body temperature.

A total of 43 new dates were produced from these three areas, including the first direct dates on rock paintings ever in Botswana and Lesotho.Electrons from these substances get trapped in the mineral's crystalline structure, and continuing exposure of the rocks to these elements over time leads to predictable increases in the number of electrons caught in the matrices.But when the rock is exposed to high enough levels of heat or light, that exposure causes vibrations in the mineral lattices and the trapped electrons are freed.Where De is the laboratory beta dose that induces the same luminescence intensity in the sample emitted by the natural sample, and DT is the annual dose rate comprised of several components of radiation that arise in the decay of natural radioactive elements.Artifacts which can be dated using these methods include ceramics, burned lithics, burned bricks and soil from hearths (TL), and unburned stone surfaces that were exposed to light and then buried (OSL).

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