Logo IMG
HOME > My Amsci > Restricted Access

The Ancient Ceramics of West Mexico

Restricted Access The content you've requested is available without charge only to active Sigma Xi members and American Scientist subscribers.

If you are an active member or an individual subscriber, please log in now in order to access this article.

If you are not a member or individual subscriber, you can:


Figure 3. Insect's life cycle in the Huitzilapa tomb . . .Click to Enlarge Image

Archaeologists and anthropologists are in the business of solving mysteries. Like police detectives they're faced with the task of reconstructing what happened at a particular place, based on what was left behind. Sometimes even their methods are the same. In this instance, forensic anthropologist Robert Pickering and chemist Ephraim Cuevas used their knowledge of corpse-eating insects and the oxidation of metals by bacteria to assess the authenticity of 2,000 year-old ceramic figurines. Authentic figures are valuable to scientists as clues to an ancient people's way of life, and to collectors of antiquities as works of art. That combination has fueled a vigorous underground market in sophisticated forgeries. Pickering and Cuevas suggest a new way of identifying the real thing.

Subscribe to American Scientist