Direct dating of lithic surface artifacts using luminescence
Archaeological surface assemblages composed of lithic scatters comprise a large proportion of the archaeological record. Dating such surface artifacts has remained inherently difficult owing to the dynamic nature of Earth-surface processes affecting these assemblages and because no satisfactory chronometric dating technique exists that can be directly applied to constrain the timing of artifact manufacture, discard, and thus human use of the landscape. Here, we present a dating approach based on optically stimulated luminescence (OSL)—OSL rock-surface burial dating—and apply it to a lithic surface scatter in Tibet. We generate OSL burial ages (age-depth profiles) for each artifact, outline the methodological complexities, and consider the artifact burial ages in the context of local-scale Earth-surface dynamics. The oldest age cluster between 5.2 and 5.5 thousand years is likely related to quarrying activities at the site and thus represents the oldest chronometric age constraints for human presence on the south-central Tibetan plateau.