Fakes & Frauds: Atoms for Detection

FAKES & FRAUDS

Every year the art faker's job gets just a little bit harder, thanks to the development of new scientific methods for determining the real age of works of art. Now atomic energy has been called to aid, as two recent developments on the art sleuthing scene testify.

In England, Oxford University's Research Laboratory for Archaeology announced that after seven years' work, it had perfected a "thermoluminescence" technique for determining the age of any ceramic, from a 6,000-year-old potsherd to a 19th century vase. The technique employs the radiation-measuring devices used...