Share This Article:

Determining the Authenticity of Artifacts by Oxygen Isotope Analysis

Full-Text HTML Download Download as PDF (Size:783KB) PP. 313-321
DOI: 10.4236/ojg.2013.34036    2,552 Downloads   4,602 Views   Citations

ABSTRACT

A technique used to determine the authenticity of artifacts that compares the oxygen isotopic composition of speleothems to the carbonate included within the patina of unprovenanced artifacts is of questionable value. The unprovenanced Jehoash Inscription Tablet and James Ossuary are of potentially immense historical and cultural importance. Nevertheless, they both were rejected by workers based on the oxygen isotope technique which provided the major foundational evidence 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 oxygen isotopes of the speleothems of the Soreq cave (Israel) purported to represent the unique composition of Jerusalem rainfall, and the patina on the artifacts, can be readily explained by the accretion of materials and geo-biochemical processes expected in normal patina formation in the Jerusalem region. The patina formation involves sporadic events in disequilibrium kinetic processes that are opposed to the equilibrium formation of speleothems in a sealed cave. Moreover, 23 of 56 patina samples (41%) on well-documented ancient artifacts from Israel yielded oxygen isotope values greater or lower than the expected speleothem values of -4 δ18O ‰ [PDB] to -6 δ18O ‰ [PDB]. Thus, the speleothem-patina correlation is invalid and the applied oxygen isotopes technique for determining the authenticity of patinas on artifacts is not a useful tool in the authentication of artifacts.

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.

References

[1] A. Ayalon, M. Bar-Mathews and Y. Goren, “Authenticity Examination of the Inscription on the Ossuary Attributed to James, Brother of Jesus,” Journal of Archaeological Science, Vol. 31, No. 8, 2004, pp. 1185-1189. doi:10.1016/j.jas.2004.03.001
[2] Y. Goren, A. Ayalon, M. Bar-Mathews and B. Shilman, “Authenticity Examination of the Jehoash Inscription,” Journal of the Institute of Archaeology of Tel-Aviv University, Vol. 31, No. 1, 2004, pp. 3-16. doi:10.1179/033443504787997845
[3] A. Lemaire, “Burial Box of James the Brother of Jesus,” Biblical Archaeology Review, Vol. 28, No. 6, 2002, pp. 24-33, 70.
[4] A. Lemaire, “Critical Evaluation of the IAA Committee Reports Regarding the Ossuary Inscription,” The Polish Journal of Biblical Research, Vol. 2, No. 2, 2003, pp. 29-60.
[5] A. Rosenfeld and S. Ilani, “SEM-EDS Analyses of Patina Samples from an Ossuary of “Ya'akov Son of Yossef Brother of Yeshua,” Biblical Archaeology Review, Vol. 28, No. 6, 2002, p. 29.
[6] E. Ganor, J. Kronfeld, H. R. Feldman, A. Rosenthal and S. Ilani, “Environmental Dust: A Tool to Study the Patina of Ancient Artifacts,” Journal of Arid Environments, Vol. 73, No. 12, 2009, pp. 1170-1176. doi:10.1016/j.jaridenv.2009.06.004
[7] A. Rosenfeld, H. R. Feldman and W. E. Krumbein, “On the Authenticity of the James Ossuary and its Possible Link to the Jesus FamilyTomb,” In: J. H. Charlesworth, Ed., Proceedings of the 3rd Princeton Symposium On Judaism and Christian Origins, Jewish Views of the After Life and Burial Practices in Second Temple Judaism, Evaluating the Talpiot Tomb in Context, Jerusalem, 13-16 January 2008.
[8] V. Sasson, “Philological and Textural Observations on the Controversial Jehoashinscription,” Ugarit-Forschungen, Vol. 35, 2004, pp. 573-587.
[9] C. Cohen, “Biblical Hebrew Philology in the Light of Research on the New Yeho’ash Royal Building Inscription,” In: M. Lubetski, Ed., New Seals and Inscriptions: Hebrew, Idumean and Cuneiform, Sheffield, 2007, pp. 222-286.
[10] S. Ilani, A. Rosenfeld and M. Dvorachek, “Archaeometry of a Stone Tablet with Hebrew Inscription Referring to Repair of the House,” Israel Geological Survey Current Research, Vol. 13, 2002, pp. 109-116.
[11] S. Ilani, A. Rosenfeld, H. R. Feldman, W. E. Krumbein, and J. Kronfeld, “Archaeometric Analysis of the Jehoash Inscription Tablet,” Journal of Archaeological Science, Vol. 35, No. 11, 2008, pp. 2966-2972. doi:10.1016/j.jas.2008.06.019
[12] A. Rosenfeld, H. R. Feldman, Y. Kronfeld and W. E. Krumbein, “Implications of the ‘Forgery Trial’ Verdict on the Authenticity of the James Ossuary,” The Bible and Interpretation, 2012. http://www.bibleinterp.com/articles/ros368030.shtml
[13] A. Rosenfeld, H. R. Feldman, Y. Kronfeld and W. E. Krumbein, “The Jehoash Inscription Tablet—After the Verdict,” The Bible and Interpretation, 2012. http://www.bibleinterp.com/articles/ros368027.shtml
[14] A. Rosenfeld and H. R. Feldman, “Archaeometric Overview of the Jehoash Inscription and James Ossuary,” Biblical Archaeology Society, Special Report, 2008, pp. 30-41.
[15] I. J. Orland, M. Bar-Matthews, N. T. Kita, A. Ayalon, J. Matthews and W. Valley, “Climate Deterioration in the Eastern Mediterranean as Revealed by Ion Microprobe Analysis of a Speleothem that Grew from 2.2 to 0.9 ka in Soreq Cave, Israel,” Quaternary Research, Vol. 71, No. 1, 2009, pp. 27-35. doi:10.1016/j.yqres.2008.08.005
[16] Y. Goren, “Israel Antiquities Authority Report,” The Bible and Interpretation, 2003. http://www.bibleinterp.com/articles/Goren_report.shtml
[17] N. A. Silberbman and Y. Goren, “Faking Biblical History,” Archaeology, 2003, pp. 20-29.
[18] A. Ayalon, M. Bar-Matthews and E. Sass, “RainfallRecharge Relationships within a Karstic Terrain in the Eastern Mediterranean Semi-Arid Region, Israel: δ 18O and δD Characteristics,” Journal of Hydrology, Vol. 207, No. 1-2, 1998, pp. 18-31. doi:10.1016/S0022-1694(98)00119-X
[19] M. Bar-Matthews, A. Ayalon and A. Kaufman, “Middle to Late Holocene (6500 Years Period) Paleoclimate in the Eastern Mediterranean Region from Stable Isotopic Composition of Speleothems from Soreq Cave, Israel. In: Issar, A.S., Brown, N. (Eds.), Water, Environment and Society in times of Climate Change,” Kluwer Academic Publishers, Boston, 1998, pp. 203-214. doi:10.1007/978-94-017-3659-6_9
[20] C. H. Hendy, “The Isotopic Geochemistry of Speleothems-I. The Calculation of the Effects of Different Models on the Isotopic Composition of Speleothems and Their Applicability as Paleoclimatic Indicators,” Geochemicaet Cosmochemica Acta, Vol. 35, No. 8, 1971, pp. 801-824. doi:10.1016/0016-7037(71)90127-X
[21] H. P. Schwartz, “Geochronolgy and Isotope Geochemistry of Speleothems,” In: P. Fritz and J.-Ch. Fontes, Eds., Handbook of Environmental Isotopes Geochemistry, Vol. 2, The Terrestrial Environment, B. Elsevier, Amsterdam, 1986, pp. 271-304.
[22] J. R. Gat and W. Dansgaard, “Stable Isotope Survey of Fresh Water Occurrences in Israel and the Northern Jordan Rift Valley,” Journal of Hydrology, Vol. 16, No. 3, 1972, pp. 177-212. doi:10.1016/0022-1694(72)90052-2
[23] J. R. Gat and I. Carmi, “Effect of Climate Changes on the Precipitation and Isotopic Composition of Water in a Climate Transition Zone: Case of the Eastern Mediterranean Sea Area,” IAHS, Wallingford, 1987, pp. 513-523.
[24] B. Schilman, M. Bar-Matthews, A. Almogi-Labin and B. Luz, “Global Climate Instability Reflected by Eastern Mediterranean Marine Records during the Late Holocene,” Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology, Vol. 176, No. 1-4, 2001, pp. 157-176. doi:10.1016/S0031-0182(01)00336-4
[25] J. R. Gat and I. Carmi, “Evolution of the Isotopic Composition of Atmospheric Waters in the Mediterranean Sea Area,” Journal of Geophysical Research, Vol. 75. No. 1-4, 1970, pp. 3039-3048. doi:10.1029/JC075i015p03039
[26] J. R. Gat, “The Isotopes of Hydrogen and Oxygen in Precipitation,” In: P. Fritz and J.-Ch. Fontes, Eds., Handbook of Environmental Isotopes Geochemistry, Vol. 1, The Terrestrial Environment, A. Elsevier, Amsterdam, 1980, pp. 21-48.
[27] I. D. Clark and P. Fritz, “Environmental Isotopes in Hydrology,” 2nd Printing, Lewis Publishers, Boca Raton, 1999.
[28] K. Rozanski, L. Araguás-Araguás and R. Gonfiantini, “Isotopic Patterns in Modern Global Precipitation,” In: Continental Isotope Indicators of Climate, American Geophysical Union Monograph, 1993
[29] A. Frumkin, D. C. Ford and H. P. Schwarcz, “Continental Oxygen Isotopic Record of the Last 170,000 Years in Jerusalem,” Quaternary Research, Vol. 51, No. 3, 1999, pp. 317-327. doi:10.1006/qres.1998.2031
[30] A. Frumkin, D. C. Ford and H. P. Schwarcz, “Paeloclimate and Vegetation in the Glacial Cycles in Jerusalem from a Speleothem Record,” Global Biogeochemical Cycles, Vol. 14, No. 3, 2000, pp. 863-870. doi:10.1029/1999GB001245
[31] Y. Kolody, M. Stein and M. Machlus, “Sea-Rain-Lake Relation in the Last Glacial East Mediterranean Revealed by δ0-18-δC-13 in Lake Lisan Aragonites,” GeochemicaetCosmochimica Acta, Vol. 69, No. 16, 2005, pp. 4045-4060. doi:10.1016/j.gca.2004.11.022
[32] S. McGarry, M. Bar-Mathews, A. Mathews, A. Vaks, B. Schilman and A. Ayalon, “Constraints on Hydrological and Paleotemperature Variations in the Eastern Mediterranean Region in the Last 140 ka Given by the δD Values of Speleothem Fluid Inclusions,” Quaternary Science Reviews, Vol. 19, No. 7-8, 2004, pp. 919-934. doi:10.1016/j.quascirev.2003.06.020
[33] K. K. E. Neuendorf, J. P. Mehl Jr. and J. Jackson, “Glossary of Geology,” 5th Edition, American Geological Institute, Alexandria, 2005, 779 p.
[34] W. E. Krumbein and K. Jens, “Biogenic Rock Varnishes of the Negev Desert (Israel) an Ecological Study of Iron and Manganese Transformation by Cyanobacteria and Fungi,” Oecologia, Vol. 50, No. 1, 1981, pp. 25-38. doi:10.1007/BF00378791
[35] A. Gurbushina, “Microcolonial Fungi: Survival Potential of Terrestrial Vegetative Structures,” Astrobiology, Vol. 3, No. 3, 2003, pp. 543-554. doi:10.1089/153110703322610636
[36] W. E. Krumbein, “Preliminary Report: External Expert Opinion on Three Stone Items, n.p,” Biblical Archaeology Review, “Finds or Fakes” Biblical Archaeology Society Web-Site, 2005.
[37] E. Ganor, “Atmospheric Dust in Israel-Sedimentological and Meterological Analysis of Dust Deposition,” Ph.D. Thesis, Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Jerusalem, 1975.
[38] D. H. Yaalon and E. Ganor, “East Mediterranean Trajectories of Dust Carrying Storms from the Sahara and Sinai,” In: E. Morales, Ed., Scope 14: Saharan Dust (Mobilization, Transport, Deposition), John Wiley, New York, 1979.
[39] M. Magaritz, “Carbon and Oxygen Isotopic Composition of Some Carbonate Rocks from Israel,” Ph.D. Thesis, Weizmann Institute of Science, Rehovot, 1973.
[40] J. Harrell, “Was Cleanser Used to Clean the James Ossuary Inscription?” Biblical Archaeological Review, Vol. 1, 2005, pp. 54-56.
[41] Y. Kolodny and S. Gross, “Thermal Metamorphism by Combustion of Organic Matter: Isotopic and Petrological Evidence,” Journal of Geology, Vol. 82, No. 4, 1974, pp. 489-506. doi:10.1086/627995
[42] A. Mathews and Y. Kolodny, “Oxygen Isotope Fractionation in Decarbonation Metamorphism: the Mottled Zone event,” Earth and Planetary Science Letters, Vol. 39, No. 1, 1978, pp. 179-192. doi:10.1016/0012-821X(78)90154-1
[43] G. Faure, “Principle of Isotope Geology,” 2nd Edition, John Wiley and Sons, New York, 1986.
[44] O. Yoffe, Y. Nathan, A. Wolfarth, S. Cohen and S. Shoval, “The Chemistry and Mineralogy of the Negev Oil Shale Ashes,” Fuel, Vol. 81, No. 9, 2002, pp. 1110-1117. doi:10.1016/S0016-2361(02)00021-2
[45] R. Shahack-Gross, A. Ayalon, P. Goldberg, Y. Goren, B. Ofek, R. Rabinovich and E. Hovers, “Formation Processes of Cemented Features in Karstic Cave Sites Revealed Using Stable Oxygen and Carbon Isotopic Analyses: A Case Study at Middle Paleolithic Amud Cave, Israel,” Geoarchaeology, Vol. 23, No. 1, 2008, pp. 43-62. doi:10.1002/gea.20203
[46] H. Herz, “Carbon and Oxygen Isotopic Ratios: A Data Base for Classical Greek and Roman Marble,” Archaeometry, Vol. 29, No. 1, 1987, pp. 35-43. doi:10.1111/j.1475-4754.1987.tb00395.x
[47] A. Livnat and J. Kronfeld, “Pleistocene Lakes in the Arava Rift of Israel (Sayif Formation); Facies and Paleoenviron-Mental Setting,” Journal of African Earth Sciences, Vol. 10, No. 3, 1990, pp. 409-420. doi:10.1016/0899-5362(90)90094-U
[48] C. Sonntag, E. Klitzch, E. P. Lohnert, E. M. El Shazly, K. O. Münnich, C. Junghans, U. Thorweihe, K. Weistroffer, and F. M. Swailem, “Paleoclimate Information from Deuterium and Oxygen-18 in Carbon-14 Dated North Saharan Groundwaters,” International Atomic Agency, Neuherberg, 1978, pp. 569-580.
[49] M. A. Geyh and F. Thiedig, “The Middle Pleistocene Al Mahruqah Formation in the Murzuq Basin, Northern Sahara, Libya Evidence for the Orbitally-Forced Humid Episodes during the Last 500,000 Years,” Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology, Vol. 257, No. 1-2, 2008, pp. 1-21. doi:10.1016/j.palaeo.2007.07.001
[50] J. M. Kieniewicz and J. R. Smith, “Hydrologic and Climatic Implications of Stable Isotope and Minor Element Analyses of Authigenic Calcite Silts and Gastropod Shells from a Mid-Pleistocene Pluvial Lake, Western Desert, Egypt,” Quaternary Research, Vol. 68, No. 3, 2007, pp. 431-444. doi:10.1016/j.yqres.2007.07.010
[51] J. R. Smith, R. Giegengack and H. P. Schwarcz, “Constraints on Pleistocene Climates Through Stable-Isotope Analyses of Fossil Spring Tufas and Associated Gastropods, Kharga Oasis, Egypt,” Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology, Vol. 206, No. 1-2, 2004, pp. 157-175. doi:10.1016/j.palaeo.2004.01.021
[52] M. Sultan, N. C. Sturchio, F. A. Hassan, F. A. Hamdan, A. Mahmoud and Z. Alfy, “Precipit Ation Source Inferred from Isotopic Composition of Pleistocene Ground Water and Carbonate Deposits in the Western Desert of Egypt,” Quaternary Research, Vol. 48, No. 1, 1997, pp. 29-37. doi:10.1006/qres.1997.1907
[53] A. Shemesh, “A Report on the Composition of Oxygen Isotopes of Patinas in Archaeological Artifacts as an Indicator for Authenticity,” Environmental Sciences, Weitzman Institute for Science, Rehovot, 2007.

  
comments powered by Disqus

Copyright © 2017 by authors and Scientific Research Publishing Inc.

Creative Commons License

This work and the related PDF file are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.