Relative dating methods are used to determine only if one sample is older or younger than another.

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 age of the remains of plants, animals, and other organic material can be determined by measuring the amount of carbon-14 contained in that material.

Carbon-14, a radioactive form of the element carbon, is created in the atmosphere by cosmic rays (invisible, high-energy particles that constantly bombard Earth from all directions in space).

When the organism dies, the supply stops, and the carbon-14 contained in the organism begins to spontaneously decay into nitrogen-14.

The time it takes for one-half of the carbon-14 to decay (a period called a half-life) is 5,730 years.

These include the uranium-thorium method, the potassium-argon method, and the rubidium-strontium method. Thermoluminescence (pronounced ther-moeloo-mi-NES-ence) dating is very useful for determining the age of pottery.

When a piece of pottery is heated in a laboratory at temperatures more than 930°F (500°C), electrons from quartz and other minerals in the pottery clay emit light.

Dating techniques are procedures used by scientists to determine the age of an object or a series of events.

The two main types of dating methods are relative and absolute.

Absolute dates must agree with dates from other relative methods in order to be valid.