It is an absolute dating method, and does not depend on comparison with similar objects (as does obsidian hydration dating, for example).
The thermoluminescence technique is the only physical means of determining the absolute age of pottery presently available.
The amount of light produced is a specific and measurable phenomenon.
If the specimen’s sensitivity to ionizing radiation is known, as is the annual influx of radiation experienced by the specimen, the released thermoluminescence can be translated into a specific amount of time since the formation of the crystal structure.
Warning about fakes using ancient materials What about airport x-rays and radiography? Thus, when one measures dose in pottery, it is the dose accumulated since it was fired, unless there was a subsequent reheating.
When pottery is fired, it loses all its previously acquired TL, and on cooling the TL begins again to build up.
Thermoluminescence Dating Thermoluminescence can be used to date materials containing crystalline minerals to a specific heating event.
This is useful for ceramics, as it determines the date of firing, as well as for lava, or even sediments that were exposed to substantial sunlight.The sample is taken by introducing the tube into a freshly cleaned back surface; if this proves difficult a block may be cut from the unit of interest.The specimen tube or block should then be wrapped in black plastic to prevent further exposure to light and to preserve the environmental moisture content.Prior to the final depositional episode it is necessary that any previously acquired TL is removed by exposure to sunlight.After burial the TL begins to build up again at a rate dependent upon the radiation flux delivered by long-lived isotopes of uranium, thorium and potassium.As a dating tool the TL technique has been of great success in authentication of ancient ceramic art objects.