OSL Dating in Archaeology

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Abstract

The OSL (optically stimulated luminescence) dating method exploits dosimetric properties of grains of minerals naturally occurring in sediments and man-made materials.

In archaeology the OSL method is used to date pottery and other heated materials (e.g., bricks, stones, earth) or sediments related to archaeological finds. The significant improvement of the OSL dating method in recent years makes it applicable to objects ranging in age from 0 to 150 000 years (in some cases to 300 000 or more) with a typical accuracy between 5 and 10%. When compared with the radiocarbon method it makes possible dating objects containing no organic matter or originating in periods for which the radiocarbon method is less accurate due to the shape or lack of the calibration curve.

This paper discusses the details of recent advances in the method and several examples of its application to material from archaeological excavations of Medieval to Palaeolithic sites.