Optically stimulated luminescence dating of Southern High Plains archaeological sites

James K. Feathers, Vance T. Holliday, David J. Meltzer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

36 Scopus citations


The Southern High Plains of North America is rich in archaeological sites, but many are not well constrained chronologically, owing to a lack of material for radiocarbon dating. A program of optically stimulated luminescence (OSL) dating, applying mainly single-grain analyses, was therefore initiated. Many samples have independent age estimates from radiocarbon to check the OSL results, but OSL age estimates are also provided for those sites that otherwise lack secure chronological control. Sediment samples for OSL were obtained primarily from Paleoindian and Archaic localities, though include deposits of more recent age. Through the analysis of single grains, equivalent dose-the numerator of the age equation-is evaluated independently on numerous grains. The distribution of these values is relatively broad for some samples, and this is attributed to post-depositional mixing. Mixing is also evident in some samples with more narrow distributions. Selecting portions of the mixed distributions for age determination allows more accurate dating for some samples, but the nature of the distributions limits the resolution on others, conclusions that cannot be as easily drawn from multi-grain analysis. Where independent age control is available, most OSL results broadly conform; however, some samples show discrepancies that are not readily explained, but may relate to association or dose rate problems. This underscores the desirability of obtaining where possible suites of chronological evidence.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1651-1665
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Archaeological Science
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 2006


  • Optically stimulated luminescence
  • Paleoindian
  • Sediment turbation
  • Single-grain resolution
  • Southern High Plains

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Archaeology
  • Archaeology


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