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Clay 'internal clock' discovered

First published: 21-05-2009

It may not be comparable to modern day timepieces such as Casio watches, but researchers believe they have discovered a way to unlock the 'internal clock' of ancient ceramics.

A new method for dating ceramic materials called rehydroxylation has been discovered by a team of scientists at the University of Manchester.

The technique involves heating a ceramic sample to around 500 degrees C and then, using time laws, monitoring the time it takes for the sample to regain its mass in lost water.

This in turn provides data used to calculate the age of the ceramic sample.

Moira Wilson, lead author of the study, which was published in the Proceedings of the Royal Society A, said: "are extremely excited by the potential of this new technique.

"As well as the new dating method, there are also more wide-ranging applications of the work, such as the detection of forged ceramic."

Meanwhile, researchers at the Oxford Radiocarbon Accelerator Unit have been using carbon dating to help discover counterfeit whiskeys.

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