Reference Work Entry

Encyclopedia of Global Archaeology

pp 2352-2358

Electron Spin Resonance (ESR) Dating in Archaeology

  • Renaud Joannes-BoyauAffiliated withSouthern Cross GeoScience, Southern Cross University Email author 


Electron spin resonance (ESR) has been used for absolute dating of archaeological materials such as quartz, flints, carbonate crystals, and fossil remains for nearly 50 years. The technique is based on the fact that certain crystal behaves as natural dosimeters. This means that electrons and holes are accumulated over time in the crystal lattice induced by surrounding radiation. The age is obtained by calculating the dose received compared to the dose rate generated by the surrounding environment, mainly radioisotopes K, U, and Th. The dating range is dependent on the nature and state of conservation of the sample and the surrounding environment but is between a few thousands and a couple of million years. Since, ESR dating is best and most commonly applied to tooth enamel in archaeology, this paper predominantly focuses on its direct application to fossil remains.


ESR Basic Principle

In solid-state physics, trapped electrons and holes can be r ...

This is an excerpt from the content