Use of signal subtraction methods in ESR dating of burned flint

Naomi Porat, Henry P. Schwarcz

Research output: Contribution to journalConference articlepeer-review

36 Scopus citations


Geological samples of chert display some of the characteristics of electron spin resonance (ESR) signals of quartz. When chert is heated in a fireplace, most of these signals are annealed. The signals grow again in fire-heated chert buried in archaeological sites, as a result of internal and external radiation doses. The date of the heating event can be determined from the acquired dose (AD) and the dose rate. The E′ and Al signals are best suited for dating. Although many cherts, when heated to a sufficient temperature, acquire a carbon radical (C) signal that largely obscures the E′ signal, it can be substracted from digitized spectra. The E′ signal also appears to saturate at relatively low doses, restricting the time range of dating to between 200 and 600 ka, depending on the dose rates. The Al signal shows no saturation, but is also interfered with by organic signals, present in burnt and unburned flint. These can also be subtracted to reveal the 'pure' Al signal. Applying the E′ signal to date flint from Yabroud, we obtain an age between 100 and 125 ka, while both thermoluminescence (TL) dating of the flint and ESR dating of tooth enamel give 195 and 225 ka, respectively; the discrepancy may be due to an overestimate of the α-efficiency. At Nahr Ibrahim, the age (c. 80 ka) is consistent with archaeological estimates.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)203-212
Number of pages10
JournalNuclear Tracks and Radiation Measurements
Issue number1-2
StatePublished - 1991
Externally publishedYes
EventProceedings of the 6th International Specialist Seminar on Thermoluminescence and Electron Spin Resonance Dating - Clermont-Ferrand, Fr
Duration: 2 Jul 19906 Jul 1990


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