Thermoluminescent Determination of Prehistoric Heat Treatment of Chert Artifacts

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Science  30 Sep 1977:
Vol. 197, Issue 4311, pp. 1359-1362
DOI: 10.1126/science.197.4311.1359


In recent years archeologists have become interested in the extent to which prehistoric peoples heat-treated chert prior to shaping it into tools. Thermoluminescent determination of the radiation dose accumulated by an artifact since it was formed or last heated provides a simple, reliable test for such heat treatment. This test can be applied to single artifacts without the need for raw source material for comparison. Results on 25 artifacts from four sites indicate that, for many chert sources, color and luster are not useful indicators of heat treatment by prehistoric peoples.