Was antiquity really so tacky?

The ancient Greeks did it, and now the Phoenicians too. Over the past few years, it’s become increasingly clear that many of the white marble statues from Greece’s golden era were originally painted in garish colors. The discovery of pigment residues on a multitude of classical era sculpture has been a boon for lovers of kitsch and a downer for pretty much everybody else. Yeah yeah, I know it’s good to know The Truth, and it is...

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Fake crystal Aztec skulls

There’s a great report out about how the British Museum and the Smithsonian teamed up to prove that two crystal skulls, one at each museum, are actually fakes. Both skulls were purportedly made by Aztecs in Mexico prior to Columbus’ arrival. The British Museum bought its skull from Tiffany and Co. in 1897 while the Smithsonian received its skull in 1960 from an anonymous donor. Although skulls are common motifs in Aztec art, museum...

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Dirty Dishes: Fatty residues on pottery fragments point to 6000 B.C. cheese-making

Nearly eight thousand years ago in an area that is now called Poland, a prehistoric person skipped dish-duty. Thanks to this delinquency, researchers in Poland and the UK led by Richard Evershed have been able to analyze the dirty residues on these dishes. Today the scientists report in Nature that the fatty acid leftovers are Northern Europe’s earliest evidence for cheese-making. And tomorrow, teenagers everywhere will begin arguing...

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Annals of Quirkiness: Space Buddha Taken By Nazis.

Ancient Egyptians made necklaces from meteorites, the Inuit used these extra-terrestrial rocks as an iron source but this is the world’s first space Buddha. Researchers in Germany led by Elmar Buchner are reporting that a sculpture of the Buddhist god Vaiśravana was carved out of a meteorite fragment that fell to Earth near the border of Siberia and Mongolia between 10,000 and 20,000 years ago. It’s the first known example of a...

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Dear eBay, I Love You. Sincerely, Conservation Science

Dear eBay, I love you. Yours Sincerely, Conservation Science I’ve been conducting a rather unconventional poll. It consists of a single question posed to unsuspecting conservation scientists, typically during conference coffee breaks or at the hotel bar thereafter: “Um. So have you ever bought anything on eBay… I mean, for your scientific work?” What’s amazing is that researchers working with cultural heritage objects as diverse as...

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Come To Culture Lab: Science On Art And Artifacts, A Conference Session This Saturday In Dublin At ESOF

I’m looking forward to moderating a session on art and artifact science at the Euroscience Open Forum  (ESOF) conference this Saturday morning from 10:45 am – 12:15 pm in the Liffey B room. If you’re in Dublin at ESOF, do stop by! Here’s what you’ll be in for… (the shortened version of my pitch to ESOF): When you mention art or cultural heritage science, most people think about authentication of a priceless...

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