A two-phase process for developing a chronology of Aboriginal occupation in arid western NSW, Australia, has been developed over the past ten years by the Western NSW Archaeology Program. Radiocarbon dating of charcoal from the remains of heat-retainer hearths, built by Aboriginal people in the past to cook food, and Optically Stimulated Luminescence (OSL) dating of sediments have been used to construct a chronology of ‘archaeological surfaces’. Here we provide preliminary age estimates using OSL dating of stones from heat-retainer hearths which have previously been dated by radiocarbon. Our method is novel in several ways including the rapid preparation method adopted and the approach to estimating the dose rate for surface samples. We discuss the limitations of this virtually non-destructive and efficient OSL dating method, and provide an agenda for future technical development and application.
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