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A techniqueused to determine the authenticity of artifacts that compares the oxygenisotopic composition of speleothems to the carbonate included within the patinaof unprovenanced artifacts is of questionable value. The unprovenanced JehoashInscription Tablet and James Ossuary are of potentially immense historical andcultural importance. Nevertheless, theyboth were rejected by workers based on the oxygen isotope technique which provided the major foundationalevidence of forgery in the longest running archaeological trial in Israel.Nevertheless, both these artifacts were determined not to be forged. The initial incongruence between the oxygenisotopes of the speleothems of the Soreq cave Israel purported to representthe unique composition of Jerusalem rainfall, and the patina on the artifacts,can be readily explained by the accretion of materials and geo-biochemicalprocesses expected in normal patina formation in the Jerusalem region. Thepatina formation involves sporadic events in disequilibrium kinetic processesthat are opposed to the equilibrium formation ofspeleothems in a sealed cave. Moreover, 23 of 56 patina samples 41% on well-documentedancient artifacts from Israel yielded oxygen isotope values greater or lowerthan the expected speleothem values of -4 δ18O ‰ PDB to -6 δ18O ‰ PDB.Thus, the speleothem-patina correlation is invalid and the applied oxygenisotopes technique for determining the authenticity of patinas on artifacts isnot a useful tool in the authentication of artifacts.


Oxygen Isotope; Patina; Artifact; Archaeology; Speleothem

Cite this paper

J. Kronfeld, A. Rosenfeld and H. Feldman -Determining the Authenticity of Artifacts by Oxygen Isotope Analysis,- Open Journal of Geology, Vol. 3 No. 4, 2013, pp. 313-321. doi: 10.4236-ojg.2013.34036.

Autor: Joel Kronfeld, Amnon Rosenfeld, Howard R. Feldman



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