Archaeological surfaces in western NSW: stratigraphic contexts and preliminary OSL dating of hearths

Edward J. Rhodes, Patricia Fanning, Simon Holdaway, Cynthja Bolton

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    A two-phase process for developing a chronology of Aboriginal occupation in arid western NSW, Australia, has been developed over the past ten years by the Western NSW Archaeology Program. Radiocarbon dating of charcoal from the remains of heat-retainer hearths, built by Aboriginal people in the past to cook food, and Optically Stimulated Luminescence (OSL) dating of sediments have been used to construct a chronology of ‘archaeological surfaces’. Here we provide preliminary age estimates using OSL dating of stones from heat-retainer hearths which have previously been dated by radiocarbon. Our method is novel in several ways including the rapid preparation method adopted and the approach to estimating the dose rate for surface samples. We discuss the limitations of this virtually non-destructive and efficient OSL dating method, and provide an agenda for future technical development and application.
    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationNew directions in archaeological science
    EditorsAndrew Fairbairn, Sue O'Connor, Ben Marwick
    Place of PublicationCanberra, Australia
    PublisherANU E Press
    Number of pages12
    ISBN (Print)9781921536489
    Publication statusPublished - 2009

    Publication series

    NameTerra Australis
    PublisherANU E Press

    Bibliographical note

    Copyright retained by author(s). Version archived for private and non-commercial use with the permission of the author and according to publisher conditions. For further reproduction rights please contact the publisher at


    • Archaeological surfaces
    • OSL dating
    • heat-retainer hearths
    • Western NSW


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