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Spectrometer identification, is it real?

by R Cowper

My good friend and neighbour showed me the greatest pitfall in determining the credibility of Chinese pottery claims. He told me a spectrometer had been invented within which a proposed Chinese piece would be examined. Radiated waves would progress through the pottery ware and in a short time an extremely7 factual analysis of the objects composition, bonding, materials etc could show its exact age give or take twenty years. Perhaps you,Peter, like me are now flabbergasted at not having heard of such a magnificent invention. Icertainly was and proclaimed its brilliance to remove all the uncertainty in this industry and a lot more of course. Towards the end aftermuch rejoicing I blurted out how this inventor would soon become extremely rich as the hordes of people lined up to pay for its use. My neighbvour looked grave and told me sadly that he never made a cent, no one came to use his machine, not the museums, the experts the collectors, nor the novices not even the first time buyers, no body at all Peter. I am shocked so I thought I might ask why this could be so?

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Dec 19, 2010
spectrometric analysis (spectroscopy)
by: peter

Spectrometry is alive and well, and it is being used currently all over the world. But not widely yet for Asian ceramics. That system is relatively new and was developed by an Australian scientist. However, what you describe doesn't quite seem to be spectrometry or spectroscopy as I know it. It is based on the fact that chemical elements (or atoms) emit electromagnetic waves when energized.
There is nothing like an X-ray type view of the material.
Simple introduction to spectrometry:
Introduction to spectrometry in PDF format downloadable here (with permission from author):

Spectrometry has been used in metallurgy for a long time. In Peking recently a renowned ceramics appraiser opened shop within Guwanzhen, the antique shop street, for providing spectrometry services. If there was nothing to it, this wouldn't be so, I suppose.
Archaeologists use it now in many places the world over, but there are other versions of spectrometry in use too.
Among the three major scientific methods used for dating ceramics I know o it is probably the most reliable and promising. The other two, radio-carbon dating and thermoluminescence (TL) testing are not reliable enough for my taste. And, the one most used for ceramics, TL testing, is not suitable for fine ceramics. I have seen the holes they drill into the pieces for TL testing. The holes are too large for porcelain! Spectrometry is the way to go, in my view, but I assume without the necessary comparison data the whole apparatus is of little use. The data may still be lacking today in many areas... For example, there are nearly 200 kilns known in China alone. It will be necessary to collect measurement data from many of these to obtain a reliable analysis.

More about spectrometric analysis of ceramics:
Scientific dating methods:

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