Age determination and authentication of ceramics: advancements in the thermoluminescence dating laboratory in Torino (Italy)

Laura Guidorzi, Fulvio Fantino, Elisabetta Durisi, Marco Ferrero, Alessandro Re, Luisa Vigorelli, Lorenzo Visca, Monica Gulmini, Giovanni Dughera, Giuseppe Giraudo, Debora Angelici, Elisa Panero, Alessandro Lo Giudice


Classified as an absolute dating method, thermoluminescence (TL) is a well-established radiation-based technique for the age determination and authentication of ceramic materials. Specifically, this method allows the determination of the time elapsed since kiln firing (or later fire events) by evaluating the luminescent emission of ceramics under heating at high temperatures. This paper provides a comprehensive presentation of the TL laboratory developed over the last decade at the Physics Department of the University of Torino. The laboratory was set up in collaboration with TecnArt S.r.l. and is also currently operating within the cultural heritage network of the National Institute of Nuclear Physics (INFN-CHNet). More than 10 years of experience in the field has resulted in improvements in procedures, with the development of customised alpha- and beta-irradiation systems and the optimisation of sampling approaches and chemical pre-treatment. Thanks to TecnArt S.r.l., the laboratory has been employed for dating and authenticating hundreds of archaeological sites and artworks, some of which are discussed in this work and compared, when possible, with radiocarbon dating.

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