Institute of Physics
Department of Radioisotopes

Luminescence dating of geological and archaeological objects


Absolute dating by luminescence methods is widely applicable in geology, geomorphology, palaeogeography and archaeology. It allows the determination of ages of geological sediments and archaeological objects.


The dose of natural ionising radiation is preserved in mineral grains, e.g. quartz grains, which absorb this radiation. These grains, when exposed to light of selected wavelengths (in case of optically stimulated luminescence - OSL) or upon heating to 500°C (in case of thermoluminescence - TL) emit light called luminescence. The amount of emitted luminescence is a function of the ionising radiation dose absorbed prior to measurement. Luminescence measurements enable determination of the absorbed dose of natural radiation. If this is combined with results of measurements of radioactivity of the sample and its environment then the absolute age of the sample can be determined. Luminescence methods measure the time since the last event zeroing the luminescence previously acquired by grains. 

In case of the OSL method it the last exposure of grains to light and in the case of TL it is the last heating to the temperature above 350-400°C. At present, practically exclusively single aliquot OSL  dating is performed, also for fired samples.

For OSL dating we employ the SAR method - Single Aliqutot Regenerative method. This method has been shown by many researchers as giving the most accurate results to date.


Most geological sediments and archaeological ceramics contain quartz grains and if only the dated event was associated with exposure to light or to an elevated temperature then they may be subject to luminescence dating. Luminescence dating is an absolute method and it provides dates with 5-10% uncertainty depending on the context and the behaviour of the sample. The accuracy is controlled by factors like homogeneity of the sediment, degree of moisture, completeness of bleaching at the time of deposition and others. 

The range of the method is from about 100 years to some 500 000 years and may additionally depend on the radioactivity of the dated object and its surroundings, as well as on the properties of quartz grains.


Dating of fired materials (ceramics, flints, etc.) by TL or OSL methods.

Dating of geological sediments by OSL methods, mainly single aliquot dating techniques.

The cost of one date is 1700 PLN + VAT (23%)= 2091 PLN (ca. 520 Euro)

We are open to suggestions of scientific collaboration as well as applications for funding for joint  projects.

Sample information sheet (download)

In order to start the dating process we need to receive your order signed by a person responsible for finances in your institution. The order should be addressed to the address given below. The order should contain the following information: your address, VAT number, number of samples, total gross amount (i.e. number of samples x 1700 x 1.23 PLN), name of the site, data of the contact person and the latest chargeable date. After that we will prepare a contract. Once the dating is completed you will receive a dating report.

Currently the waiting time for results is 5-9 months.



Silesian University of Technology
Institute of Physics
GADAM Centre
Konarskiego 22B, 44-100 Gliwice, Poland


Dr. Piotr Moska
+48 (0) 32 237 2696