Pottery dating techniques
These include the uranium-thorium method, the potassium-argon method, and the rubidium-strontium method. Thermoluminescence (pronounced ther-moeloo-mi-NES-ence) dating is very useful for determining the age of pottery.
When a piece of pottery is heated in a laboratory at temperatures more than 930°F (500°C), electrons from quartz and other minerals in the pottery clay emit light.
The nucleus of every radioactive element (such as radium and uranium) spontaneously disintegrates over time, transforming itself into the nucleus of an atom of a different element.
In the process of disintegration, the atom gives off radiation (energy emitted in the form of waves). Each element decays at its own rate, unaffected by external physical conditions.
If a certain kind of pollen is found in an archaeological site, scientists can check when the plant that produced that pollen lived to determine the relative age of the site.
Absolute dating methods are carried out in a laboratory.
Relative dating methods are used to determine only if one sample is older or younger than another.
Cosmic rays: Invisible, high-energy particles that constantly bombard Earth from all directions in space.With sensitive instrumentation, this range can be extended to 70,000 years.In addition to the radiocarbon dating technique, scientists have developed other dating methods based on the transformation of one element into another.The older the pottery, the brighter the light that will be emitted.Using thermoluminescence, pottery pieces as old as 100,000 years can be dated with precision. Known as dendrochronology (pronounced den-dro-crow-NOL-o-gee), tree-ring dating is based on the fact that trees produce one growth ring each year.