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The older the pottery, the brighter the light that will be emitted.Using thermoluminescence, pottery pieces as old as 100,000 years can be dated with precision. Known as dendrochronology (pronounced den-dro-crow-NOL-o-gee), tree-ring dating is based on the fact that trees produce one growth ring each year.
The main relative dating method is stratigraphy (pronounced stra-TI-gra-fee), which is the study of layers of rocks or the objects embedded within those layers.
The nucleus of every radioactive element (such as radium and uranium) spontaneously disintegrates over time, transforming itself into the nucleus of an atom of a different element.
In the process of disintegration, the atom gives off radiation (energy emitted in the form of waves). Each element decays at its own rate, unaffected by external physical conditions.
Narrow rings grow in cold or dry years, and wide rings grow in warm or wet years.
The rings form a distinctive pattern, which is the same for all members in a given species and geographical area.