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For each dating or chronological method there is a link in the box at right to take you to that section of this page.
There, you will find a brief description of the method, plus links to take you to other webpages with more extensive information.
However, human beings love to see factual precision, and we want to know how old something is.
Please remember that all dating methods, even those termed "absolute," are subject to margins of error. That is a very small amount of possible error range. Modern studies almost always use two or more methods to confirm dating work and to build confidence in the results obtained.
"Optical dating" typically refers to OSL and IRSL, but not TL.
Unlike quartz or digital watches, which require a battery to run, mechanical movement harnesses the energy stored in a repeatedly-wound spring.The trapped charge accumulates over time at a rate determined by the amount of background radiation at the location where the sample was buried.Stimulating these mineral grains using either light (blue or green for OSL; infrared for IRSL) or heat (for TL) causes a luminescence signal to be emitted as the stored unstable electron energy is released, the intensity of which varies depending on the amount of radiation absorbed during burial and specific properties of the mineral. 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.