Thermoluminescence dating methods
Thermoluminescence emits a weak light signal that is proportional to the radiation dose absorbed by the material. The technique has wide application, and is relatively cheap at some US0–700 per object; ideally a number of samples are tested. The destruction of a relatively significant amount of sample material is necessary, which can be a limitation in the case of artworks.
The heating must have taken the object above 500° C, which covers most ceramics, although very high-fired porcelain creates other difficulties.
As a crystalline material is heated during measurements, the process of thermoluminescence starts.
It will often work well with stones that have been heated by fire.
The clay core of bronze sculptures made by lost wax casting can also be tested.
This method is based on the assumption (which nearly always holds true) that deeper layers of rock were deposited earlier in Earth's history, and thus are older than more shallow layers.
The successive layers of rock represent successive intervals of time.