Radiocarbon-based investigations into the authenticity of Mesoamerican artefacts in museum contexts

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

8 Downloads (Pure)

Abstract

In this article, radiocarbon dating has been used as a tool for investigating the authenticity of two Mesoamerican artefacts from the collection of the National Museum of World Cultures (Museum Volkenkunde), Leiden, the Netherlands. The first artefact is a ceremonial Aztec, possibly a tecpatl, knife, and it is presumed to date to 1300–1500 CE. The second object is a decorated Mixtec skull, presumed to date to 1400–1520 CE. The efficacy of radiocarbon dating was thoroughly tested in this study, especially in regard to the tiny quantities that could be sampled from the skull. However, with the newly revamped radiocarbon facility at the University of Groningen, this was an opportune moment to attempt such research.  Ultimately, a credible result could not be obtained on the skull; however, the ceremonial knife was dated reliably to the Aztec period. The article also discusses the broader issue of whether radiocarbon results can be used as a definitive proof of authenticity and examines the risk-reward nature of radiocarbon testing.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)345-351
Number of pages7
JournalPalaeohistoria
Volume61/62
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 23-Jun-2021

Keywords

  • Mesoamerica
  • Pre-Columbian artefacts
  • Radiocarbon dating
  • Authentication
  • Museum Studies

Cite this