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General references Links to other useful sites BACK TO HOME PAGE HOW DOES THERMOLUMINESCENCE DATING WORK?In all, close to two dozen physical quantities must be accurately measured to establish the relationship between doses of different kinds of radiation and light output, and to compute dose rate.Unfortunately, it is not possible to achieve this precision for the majority of art objects.Among the reasons for this is the small amount of material that may be taken for testing.
Since the university laboratories involved with TL are research facilities, they generally will not accept art objects for authentication on a routine basis.Using this information often reduces the uncertainty to 15-25 per cent. Nearly any mineral material which has been heated above 500C at a time one wishes to know is a candidate for TL dating. Porcelains, being nearly vitrified, are a special case requiring a fairly large solid core sample, and TL dating of intact objects is not recommended because of the damage caused by sampling.Most porcelain dating is done for insurance purposes on broken objects. 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 TL laboratory at Daybreak was established in 1977 to make TL available to the art community in general. Studies at Oxford back in the 70s on Romano-British pottery indicated that when all quantities entering the age equation are measured, the TL date of a single potsherd will typically fall within 15 per cent of the known date.