Research ArticleGEOLOGY

Direct dating of lithic surface artifacts using luminescence

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Science Advances  02 Jun 2021:
Vol. 7, no. 23, eabb3424
DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.abb3424
  • Fig. 1 Geographical setting of the studied site.

    (A) Location of the Tingri Graben in the Himalaya. (B) Google Earth perspective of the Tingri Graben and the high Himalaya viewing roughly south indicating the location of the Su-re archaeological site. Photo credit: (B) Google Earth image.

  • Fig. 2 Features of the Su-re archaeological site.

    (A) Google Earth oblique aerial view with positions of sampled surface artifacts along the hillslope at Su-re (view is to the northwest). (B) View over the lithic surface scatter site into the Su-re valley with large quartzite boulders that have been partly quarried (middle ground of image). Note the degraded aeolian cover sands in the background and shallow drainage lines from the concentration of overland flow in the foreground. (C and D) Detailed sketch of artifact TIN36 and TIN54, respectively. Photo credit: (A) Google Earth image; (B) M. C. Meyer, University of Innsbruck.

  • Fig. 3 Conceptual model showing the dating approach highlighting a common pathway of a lithic artifact in the landscape and the corresponding changes to the luminescence signal on the object surface of interest.

    (A) Artifact still in its original bedrock context before exposure by quarrying and/or knapping. (B) Artifact use and/or discard by humans leading to exposure and bleaching of the luminescence signal on all surfaces. (C) Artifact settling, embedding, and semiburial in the soil leading to luminescence signal buildup (red and green dotted lines indicate two opposing artifact surfaces). Note that exposure of an air-facing artifact surface before knapping (i.e., prior exposure, while still “in situ” in the quarry setting) such as in (A) will contribute to the bleaching of the artifact surfaces that continues in (B).

  • Fig. 4 De-depth profiles for the Su-re quartzite.

    (A and B) De-depth profiles for quartzite blocks exposed to a solar simulator for varying durations. (C and D) Daylight-bleached samples with a known exposure duration of 1.667 years. De-depth profiles are shown on a log-y scale (A and C) and on a linear scale [for values under 10 Gy: (B) and (D)] to visualize the depth to which material is bleached. Error bars indicate 1σ uncertainties.

  • Fig. 5 Age-depth profiles showing age plateaus (solid lines) for all samples.

    (A) TIN55, (B) TIN56, (C) TIN36, (D) TIN61, (E) TIN59 , and (F) TIN54. The errors for the individual ages as well as for the burial age plateaus (dashed line) are plotted as 1σ errors. Sample TIN54 lacks an age plateau in an inverted age-depth profile due to nearly complete bleaching from above and thus yielded a minimum age of 5.45 ± 0.54 ka (for details, see the main text).

  • Fig. 6 Additional and more complex pathways of rock artifacts in the landscapes and the corresponding luminescence signal (note that all pathways continue from a semi-embedded artifact as shown in Fig. 3C).

    (A) Repeated transport with artifact flipping and subsequent shielding, (B) the case of a thin artifact subject to complete bleaching from the exposed surface, and (C) shielding by deep in situ burial (e.g., via aeolian deposition).

Supplementary Materials

  • Supplementary Materials

    Direct dating of lithic surface artifacts using luminescence

    Luke Andrew Gliganic, Michael Christian Meyer, Jan-Hendrik May, Mark Steven Aldenderfer, Peter Tropper

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