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Ultraviolet light emitted by the sample is detected for measurement.
Release date: Caves are important, yet often fragile, natural subterranean environments.
Ideally this is assessed by measurements made at the precise findspot over a long period.
For artworks, it may be sufficient to confirm whether a piece is broadly ancient or modern (that is, authentic or a fake), and this may be possible even if a precise date cannot be estimated.
In thermoluminescence dating, these long-term traps are used to determine the age of materials: When irradiated crystalline material is again heated or exposed to strong light, the trapped electrons are given sufficient energy to escape.
In the process of recombining with a lattice ion, they lose energy and emit photons (light quanta), detectable in the laboratory.
The clay core of bronze sculptures made by lost wax casting can also be tested.Different materials vary considerably in their suitability for the technique, depending on several factors.Subsequent irradiation, for example if an x-ray is taken, can affect accuracy, as will the "annual dose" of radiation a buried object has received from the surrounding soil.Caves not only house minerals and speleothems, but also often provide a home for rare fauna and ancient fossil deposits.