A report by Nicole Martinelli, Sonic Fingerprints Safeguard Art, discusses Pietro Cosentino's invention of 'sonic fingerprinting' for antiquities.
Professor Cosentino attached sensors to an ancient funeral url, then tapped the urn with a small rubber hammer. The sensors recorded the vibrations. The idea is to create a 'fingerprint' of the interior structure of the urn.
According to the report, the technique works on stone, wood and ceramics. Not metal, so this wouldn't be a good technique for examining ancient coins.
Ancient coins has a similar technique called the 'ring test'. The coin is struck and a human listens for a ringing sound. Reid Goldsborough explains the test. It's used for detecting cast counterfeits and to check for crystalization.
Could a quantitative test be developed for ancient metallic objects? Perhaps something with a tuning fork and very accurate measurement of sound waves or object vibrations? I suspect such a test would reveal very little about coins of good metal, but perhaps would be of use for measuring crystalization or patina composition.
(via Harvard Art Law News).
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