As promised, here is our next instalment from one of our MSc. students who’s currently about 6 weeks away from submission of his dissertation – sorry for the reminder Luke!
Name: Luke Parker
My dissertation is on using optically stimulated luminescence (OSL) to date early hearth stones in the Western Nefud Desert, Saudi Arabia.
These hearth stones are stones which were used by early humans as part of fire places and can still be found today in the desert as scattered stone circles. OSL can be used to date the last use of these fireplaces since heating in antiquity should reduce the quartz OSL signal to zero. This signal is then gradually regained as the quartz grains are exposed to naturally occurring radiation, allowing us to determine the amount of time elapsed since they were last heated. Dating these fireplaces is important as there are many associated lithic artefacts nearby as well as potential human remains, making establishing a chronology for this area useful for understanding human migration and dispersal in this region of the Middle East.