The hard scientist might conclude that this inscription is indeed ancient, based on the results of the thermoluminescence testing. After all, a savvy forger would surely use an ancient potsherd and then forge an inscription on it, in a script and language that corresponds very nicely with the region and time period from which the potsherd came.That is, just because the potsherd is ancient doesn’t mean that the inscription is ancient.Scenario 1: an epigraphic object is sent for analysis and the laboratory finds modern contaminants under the patina.
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Those of us in the humanities sometimes seem to forget this (at least in practice).
Here are a few scenarios, most of which are now attested in the laboratory analysis of actual epigraphic objects from the antiquities market (see section II below).
This is difficult, as finding enough carbon in ink is very difficult (i.e., even for an AMS test, which requires less Carbon 14).
But someone might suggest that spectroscopic analysis of the ink could be used, so as to determine the chemical composition of the ink.
However, it would not be prudent for a hard scientist automatically to conclude that the text was authentic, as ancient papyrus is something that can be purchased on the antiquities market and a modern forger worth his or her salt would be wise enough to use that as the medium.