The first successful application of Optically Stimulated Luminescence Dating to a colonial era (<0.25ka) archaeological site in Australia

Williams, A.N., Toms, Phillip ORCID: 0000-0003-2149-046X, Marcus, D., Yousif, A., McGuinness, J., O'Sullivan, A., Barry, L., Bryant, T. and Wood, J.C. (2019) The first successful application of Optically Stimulated Luminescence Dating to a colonial era (<0.25ka) archaeological site in Australia. Journal of Archaeological Science: Reports, 24. pp. 993-1002. doi:10.1016/j.jasrep.2019.03.020

Text (Peer reviewed version)
6703 Toms (2019) The first successful application of Optically Stimulated Luminescence.pdf - Accepted Version
Available under License Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial No Derivatives 4.0.

Download (1MB) | Preview


While exploration of Australian post-colonial (≤0.25 ka) OSL dating is well established in a range of natural sedimentary contexts (e.g. fluvial, aeolian, coastal), to date there have been no successful examples of the technique applied to archaeological sediments of this era. Here we present the results of a multi-phase compliance-based archaeological excavations of a new bridge crossing the Hawkesbury-Nepean River (northwest Sydney). These works identified a Last Glacial Maximum (LGM) aeolian deposit through which a colonial era drainage system had been excavated. Historical documents reveal the construction of the system occurred between 1814 and 1816 CE. An opportunistic range-finding Optically Stimulated Luminescence (OSL) sample was obtained from anthropogenic trench backfill – composed of reworked LGM deposits – immediately above the drainage system. Minimum and Finite Mixture age models of single grain quartz OSL provided a date of 1826 CE (1806-1846 CE), in close agreement with the documented age of construction. These findings provide the first evidence of a colonial structure reliably dated using OSL, and demonstrate the feasibility of wider deployment of OSL dating to other archaeological sites of the recent era (≤0.25 ka). We propose that such environments associated with large volumes of sand-rich backfill, in particular, likely heighten OSL dating success. We propose that well-documented historical archaeological sites in Australia also have the potential to provide a robust testing ground for further evaluating the accuracy of OSL dating in a range of young archaeological sedimentary contexts, potentially to sub-decadal levels.

Item Type: Article
Article Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: Colonial era, Windsor (Sydney, NSW), Compliance-based archaeology, Anthropogenic backfill, Single-grain OSL
Subjects: C Auxiliary Sciences of History > CC Archaeology
D History General and Old World > DU Oceania (South Seas)
G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GB Physical geography
G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GF Human geography. Human ecology. Anthropogeography
Q Science > QE Geology
Divisions: Schools and Research Institutes > School of Education and Science
Research Priority Areas: Place, Environment and Community
Depositing User: Phillip Toms
Date Deposited: 04 Apr 2019 17:02
Last Modified: 31 Aug 2023 08:58

University Staff: Request a correction | Repository Editors: Update this record

University Of Gloucestershire

Bookmark and Share

Find Us On Social Media:

Social Media Icons Facebook Twitter Google+ YouTube Pinterest Linkedin

Other University Web Sites

University of Gloucestershire, The Park, Cheltenham, Gloucestershire, GL50 2RH. Telephone +44 (0)844 8010001.