DATING OF ARTIFACTS

SOME REFERENCES FOR SOURCES

Definitions

Radiocarbon dating: radioactive carbon decays to nitrogen with a half-life of 5730 years. In dead material, the decayed 14C is not replaced and its concentration in the object decreases slowly. To obtain a truly absolute chronology, corrections must be made, provided by measurements on samples of know age. The most suitable types of sample for radiocarbon dating are charcoal and well-preserved wood, although leather, cloth, paper, peat, shell and bone can also be used. Because of the somewhat short half-life of 14C, radiocarbon dating is not applicable to samples with ages greater than about 50,000 years, because the remaining concentration would be too small for accurate measurement.

Thermoluminescence dating: this method is associated with the effect of the high energy radiation emitted as a result of the decay or radioactive impurities. Because of the half-lives of 238U, 232nd, and 40K are very long, their concentrations in the object, and hence the radiation dose they provide per year, have remained fairly constant. The most suitable type of sample for thermoluminescence dating is pottery, though the date gotten will be for the last time the object was fired. Application of this method of age determination is limited to those periods of pottery and fired clay availability ( from about 6000 BC to the present). 

Addresses

Radiocarbon dating

Beta Analytic, Inc.
University Branch
4985 S.W. 74th Court
Miami, FL 33155
(305) 667-5167
FAX (305) 663-0964

Biocams International, Inc
13018 SW 120 Street
Miami, FL 33186
(305) 663-0886
FAX (305) 631-3434

Center for Accelerator Mass Spectrometry
PO Box 808, L-397
Livermore, CA 94550
(510) 423-1414
FAX (510) 4223-7884

Columbia University
Geochemistry Department
Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory
Palisades, NY 10964
(914) 365-8505
FAX (914) 365-8155

Desert Research Institute
Water Resources Center
Radiocarbon Laboratory
PO Box 19040
Las Vegas, NV 89132-0040
(702) 895-0416
FAX (702) 895-0427

Geochron Laboratories
A division of Krueger Enterprises, Inc.
711 Concord Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
(617) 876-3691
FAX (617) 661-0148

Illinois State Geological Survey
Isotope Geochemistry Laboratory
Geochemistry Section
615 East Peabody Drive
Urbana, IL 61820
(217) 333-9083
FAX (217) 244-7004

Los Angeles County Museum of Art
5905 Wilshire Boulevard
Los Angeles, CA 90036
(213) 857-6161
FAX (213) 931-7347

National Institute of Standards and Technology
Room B364, Building 222
Gaithersburg, MD 20899
(301) 975-3919
FAX (301) 975-3845

Purdue University
Purdue Rare Isotope Measurement Laboratory
1396 Physics Building
West Lafayette, IN 47907-1396
(317) 494-6516
FAX (317) 494-0706

Teledyne Isotopes
50 Van Buren Avenue
Westwood, NJ 07675
(201) 664-7070
FAX (201) 664-5586

Texas A&M University
Department of Oceanography
College Station, TX 77843
(409) 845-3651

United States Geological Survey
345 Middlefield Road
Menlo Park, CA 94025
(415) 329-4685
FAX (415) 329-4684

United States Geological Survey
National Center, 971
Reston, VA 22092
(703) 648-5350
FAX (703) 648-5310

United States Geological Survey, WRD
Box 25046, Mail Stop 421
Denver Federal Center
Denver, CO 80225
(303) 236-5178
FAX (303) 236-5047

University of Arizona
Geosciences Department
Laboratory of Isotope Geochemistry
Tuscon, AZ 85721
(520) 621-8888
FAX (520) 621-2672

University of Arizona
NSF-Arizona AMS Laboratory
PAS Building 81
Tuscon, AZ 85721
(520) 621-6810
FAX (520) 621-9619

University of California
Institute of Geophysics and Planetary Physics
Archaeology Department
Los Angeles, CA 90024
(310) 825-4169
FAX (310) 206-3051

University of California
Institute of Geophysics and Planetary Physics
Department of Anthropology
Riverside, CA 92512
(909) 787-5521
FAX (909) 787-5409

University of California, Irvine
Department of Earth Science
Radiocarbon Laboratory
PSRF 207
Irvine, CA 92717
(909) 725-2116
FAX (909) 725-3256

University of Georgia
Center for Applied Isotope Studies
120 Riverbend Road
Athens, GA 30602-4702
(706) 542-1395
FAX (706) 542-6106

University of Miami
Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science
Miami, FL 33149
(305) 361-4100
FAX (305) 361-4112

University of Rochester
Nuclear Structure Research Laboratory
Rochester, NY 14627
(716) 275-4944
FAX (716) 275-8527

University of Texas at Austin
J.J. Pickle Research Campus
Radiocarbon Laboratory
Mail Code 77600
Austin, TX 78712
(512) 471-6600
FAX (612) 471-5973

University of Washington
Department of Geological Sciences
Quaternary Isotope Laboratory AJ-20
Seattle, WA 98195
(206) 685-1735
FAX (206) 543-3836

University of Wisconsin - Madison
Center for Climatic Research
1225 West Dayton Street
Madison, WI 53706
(608) 262-7328
FAX (608) 262-5964

Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution
McLean Laboratory
National Ocean Sciences AMS Facility
Woods Hole, MA 002543
(508) 457-2000x2585
FAX (508) 457-2183

Thermoluminescence dating

Daybreak Nuclear & Medical Systems Inc.
50 Denison Drive
Guilford, CT 06437
(203) 453-3299

University of Hawai'i
Hawai'i Institute of Geophysics and Planetology
2525 Correa Road
Honolulu, HI 96822
(808) 956-8761
FAX (808) 956-3188

University of Washington
Luminescence Laboratory, DH-05
Seattle, WA 98195
(206) 543-1506
FAX (206) 543-3285

Other dating and analysis

American Council of Independent Laboratories
1629 K Street, NW
Washington, DC 20006
(202) 887-5872
FAX (202)887-0021
E-mail: info@acil.org
Directory of independent testing, research and inspection laboratories.

Integrated Paper Services, Inc.
101 West Edison Avenue, Suite 250
Appleton, WI 54915
(920) 749-3040
FAX (920) 749-3046
Testing and analysis for the pulp, paper, and allied industries.

References

Radiocarbon WEB-info
Provides a large international listing of laboratories that do radiocarbon dating; information on radiocarbon dating; publications and references; and educational materials.

Radiocarbon, vol. 36, no. 3, 1994, pp. 413-440 has a large international listing of laboratories that do radiocarbon dating.

Aitken, M.J. Thermoluminescence dating, 1985, London; Orlando: Academic Press, xi, 359 p.

American Quaternary Association. Geochronological Services Directory.

Bortolot, Victor J. "Real or Fake? Authentication by thermoluminescence," World of Tribal Arts, 1 (4), Winter 1994: 81-83.

Bowman, Sheridan. Radiocarbon Dating, 1990, Berkeley: University of California Press, 64 p.

Brothwell, Don and Eric Higgs, eds. Science in Archaeology: A Survey of Progress and Research, 2nd edition, 1969, London: Thames & Hudson, 720 p.

Geyh, Mebus A.  Absolute Age Determination: Physical and Chemical Dating Methods and Their Application, c1990, Berlin; New York: Springer-Verlag, xi, 503 p.

Leute, Ulrich. Archaeometry: An Introduction to Physical Methods in Archaeology and the History of Art, 1987, Weinheim;New York: VCH, 176 p.

Polach, Dilette. Radiocarbon dating literature: the first 21 years, 1947-1968, 1988, London; San Diego: Avademic Press, x, 370 p.

Taylor, R.E. Radiocarbon dating: an archaeological perspective, 1987, Orlando: Academic Press, xii, 212 p.

Tite, M.S. Methods of Physical Examination in Archaeology, 1972, London;New York: Seminar Press, 389 p.

This list is not all-inclusive.

The Smithsonian Institution, Museum Conservation Institute (MCI), gives no endorsements for any products, materials or services mentioned in this pamphlet and is not responsible for problems from their use or misuse. MCI does not make any warranty, expressed or implied; does not assume any legal liability or responsibility for the accuracy, completeness, or usefulness of any information or process disclosed; nor represents that its use would not infringe privately owned rights. If any organizations or other pertinent information has been inadvertently excluded please contact MCI.

Compiled by: Ann N'Gadi
Special Thanks to: Robert M. Organ; Noreen Tuross; Pam Vandiver
Created: May 1996
Updated: March 2004