Luminescence dating including thermoluminescence and optically stimulated luminescence is a type of dating methodology that measures the amount of light emitted from energy stored in certain rock types and derived soils to obtain an absolute date for a specific event that occurred in the past. The method is a direct dating technique , meaning that the amount of energy emitted is a direct result of the event being measured. Better still, unlike radiocarbon dating , the effect luminescence dating measures increases with time. As a result, there is no upper date limit set by the sensitivity of the method itself, although other factors may limit the method's feasibility. To put it simply, certain minerals quartz, feldspar, and calcite , store energy from the sun at a known rate.
Archaeologists use many different techniques to determine the age of a particular artifact, site, or part of a site. Two broad categories of dating or chronometric techniques that archaeologists use are called relative and absolute dating. Stratigraphy is the oldest of the relative dating methods that archaeologists use to date things. Stratigraphy is based on the law of superposition--like a layer cake, the lowest layers must have been formed first. In other words, artifacts found in the upper layers of a site will have been deposited more recently than those found in the lower layers. Cross-dating of sites, comparing geologic strata at one site with another location and extrapolating the relative ages in that manner, is still an important dating strategy used today, primarily when sites are far too old for absolute dates to have much meaning.
Thermoluminescence dating TL is the determination, by means of measuring the accumulated radiation dose, of the time elapsed since material containing crystalline minerals was either heated lava , ceramics or exposed to sunlight sediments. As a crystalline material is heated during measurements, the process of thermoluminescence starts. Thermoluminescence emits a weak light signal that is proportional to the radiation dose absorbed by the material. It is a type of luminescence dating. Sediments are more expensive to date.
The most common method for dating artifacts and biological materials is the carbon 14 C method. However, it poses a serious problem for deep-time advocates because it cannot be used for dating anything much older than 50, years. After that time virtually all measureable 14 C should be gone. Many archaeologists use this method to date pottery and, consequently, the sedimentary layers in which they appear.