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Posted by / 02-Mar-2017 11:15

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Scenario 2: Or again, let us say that someone has a potsherd from the antiquities market with an ink inscription on it and they send it off to a laboratory for thermoluminescence testing.

In any case, the focus will be on (1) useful protocols for laboratory testing, (2) followed by concrete discussion of lab testing, based on published lab reports (and some of the problems with these).

Not all labs are equal and not all hard scientists are equal. Furthermore, I think that it should go without saying that those with a vested interest in the results should have no part in the sending of pieces to laboratories.

The remainder of this blog post focuses on protocols for laboratory testing as well as a discussion of some laboratory tests which have been performed on epigraphic objects during recent years, including some of the problems with some of these tests.

I believe that this could be useful, at least at times.

But I would also hasten to add that enough is known now about the production of ink in antiquity (and the chemical makeup of many inks) that a savvy forger could also find some ancient carbonized remains (e.g., a piece of carbonized timber found on an excavation) and use that as the basis for the production of ink that appears ancient indeed, employing also data known about the rest of the chemicals often found in actual ancient inks (e.g., the right amount of iron, etc.).

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She or he could suggest that the piece is a modern forgery.