In fact, in 1967 Huang and Walker reported the observation of fossil alpha-recoil tracks (ART) in mica.
Their numbers correlate with those of fission-tracks, implying their interpretation as recoil tracks of the alpha-decay.
The excess energy is emitted as light (thermoluminescence).
In the case of pottery, taking in mind that the firing process has set the thermoluminescent clock to zero, we can reheat the pottery experimentally up to about 500°C.
The amount of light emitted in this reheating will be proportional to the age of the piece since its last heating (Fleming, 1976). (1982): Maya Fine Paste ceramics: A compositional perspective.
Like fission-track dating, alpha recoil-track (ART) dating is based on the accumulation of nuclear particles that are released by natural radioactivity and produce etchable tracks in solids. In Analysis of Fine Paste ceramics: Excavations at Seibal, Department of El Petén, Guatemala, ed.
ART are formed during the alpha-decay of uranium and thorium as well as of their daughter nuclei.
When an alpha-particle is emitted, the heavy nucleus recoils 30-40 nm, leaving behind a trail of radiation damage.
Through etching the ARTs become visible with interference phase-contrast microscopy (Fig. Under the presupposition that all tracks are preserved since the formation of sample, their total number is a measure for the sample’s age.
However, the specific energy loss of the alpha particles is generally too low to form etchable tracks in many minerals, with the exception of micas.
This method is probably the most used in dating ceramic (Aitken, 1976, 1985; Tite and Waine, 1962; Fleming, 1976).
It is based upon the interaction of high-energy radiation produced during radioactive decay with the components most often present in ceramic. (1981): Incipient markets for early Anglo-Saxon ceramics: Variations in levels and modes of production.
Most common minerals present in ceramic contain radioactive elements such as uranium, thorium and potassium. In: Production and distribution: A ceramic viewpoint, ed.