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Research Focus

Research Focus - Dating


Luminescence Dating Laboratory

Resaercher in the labThe Luminescence Dating Laboratory undertakes optically stimulated luminescence (OSL/IRSL) on sediment samples, as well as thermoluminescence (TL) dating of heated rock material.

It consists of four connected rooms with dimmed red (EncapSulite R10 and R20) lighting. One room is dedicated to chemical, and another to the mechanical, sample preparation. The latter houses a manual hydraulic press (Wassermann WW33), a water cooled diamond rock saw (Isomet 1000) and a dry/wet sieving machine (Fritsch Analysette 3). The third room contains three Risø luminescence readers, two of which include single grain attachments for the measurement of individual sand grains. Facilities for alpha (Littlemore 721A) and beta (Littlemore 9022) irradiation are located in the fourth room. An additional laboratory is shared with the stable isotope group and contains a dual-light system and HF-rated fume cupboard for safe etching of sediment samples for OSL.

Dosimetric analyses are undertaken in house using a Risø beta counter. Field measurements of gamma dose rates are made using a portable NaI γ-spectrometer (Ortec), as well as a LaBr γ-spectrometer and a system based on the optical stimulation of Al2O3:C (TLD-500).

More information on luminescence dating can be found here.

A list of some of the luminescence dating projects of the MPI-EVA can be found here


Research Areas of the Luminescence Dating Laboratory

in the labThe luminescence dating laboratory at MPI-EVA focusses on providing chronometric ages for Palaeolithic sites and their environmental contexts. This complements the information regarding human behavior and evolution which can be obtained from human and faunal remains, typological/technological analyses of artefacts, stratigraphy and site formation processes. Luminescence dating effectively measures the time since sediment burial or heating of stone, and can yield ages of up to several hundred thousand years. Consequently, this technique is especially useful in cases where material suitable for alternative techniques is not available, or for sites whose antiquity lies beyond the age limits of methods such as radiocarbon. Luminescence dating methods thus help provide the temporal framework for understanding human evolution.

Most of our research addresses questions relating to the timing of transitional periods, such as human dispersal into Europe; typological changes in Palaeolithic technology in southern and northern Africa; and adaptation to changing environments in Australia. Additionally, methodological work is carried out to better understand the nature of luminescence characteristics in sediments, and to improve luminescence dating protocols.


The luminescence dating group



  • Dr Daniel Richter
  • Dr Marion Hernandez
  • Dr. Anja Guhl