The ability to date directly the manufacture of ceramics by luminescence has many benefits in resolving chronological problems for ceramic-bearing cultures. Our laboratory routinely processes 100-200 ceramics per year. We have tried to identify dating problems that are particularly suited to luminescence but difficult to resolve by other methods. These include (1) dating small, surface sites lacking diagnostic artifacts but important for understanding settlement dynamics and land use, (2) determining the duration of occupation at sites, (3) identifying mixing of artifacts of different ages in the same location, (4) understanding the tempo of ceramic technological changes. This work was funded by NSF in the past, but is continuing with the multitude of contract work. We typically apply OSL and IRSL, as well as TL, for measuring luminescence on ceramics, and part of our research is to understand the behavior in ceramics of these different signals.
In many archaeological circumstances, finding suitable dating materials can be challenging. Fire-modified rock is often present at many sites, however, and increasingly, we have applied luminescence to dating them. Sufficient heating at the time of interest is often a problem.