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Determining the authenticity of purported pre-Columbian

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Senior Manager
Joined: 15 Aug 2004
Posts: 327
Determining the authenticity of purported pre-Columbian [#permalink]

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18 Aug 2006, 04:40
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Determining the authenticity of purported pre-Columbian artifacts is never easy. Carbon-14 dating of these artifacts is often impossible due to contamination by radioactive palladium (which occurs naturally in the soils of Central and South America). However, historians and anthropologists have evolved two reliable criteria, which, utilized in combination, have proven effective for dating these artifacts. First, because authentic pre-Columbian artifacts characteristically occur in a coarse, granular matrix that is shifted by major earthquakes, they often exhibit the unique scratch patterns known as gridding. In addition, true pre-Columbian artifacts show a darkening in surface color that is caused by centuries of exposure to the minute amounts of magnesium in the soil of the Americas.

The criteria above would be LEAST useful in judging the authenticity of which of the following?

(A) An ax head of black obsidian, unearthed from a kitchen midden
(B) A pottery bowl with a red ocher design, found in the ruins of a temple
(C) A set of gold ear weights, ornamented with jasper pendants
(D) A black feather cape from a kingâ€™s burial vault
(E) A multicolored woven sash found near the gravesite of a slave
Current Student
Joined: 29 Jan 2005
Posts: 5218
Re: CR - Pre-Columbian Artifacts [#permalink]

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18 Aug 2006, 05:21
sumitsarkar82 wrote:
Determining the authenticity of purported pre-Columbian artifacts is never easy. Carbon-14 dating of these artifacts is often impossible due to contamination by radioactive palladium (which occurs naturally in the soils of Central and South America). However, historians and anthropologists have evolved two reliable criteria, which, utilized in combination, have proven effective for dating these artifacts. First, because authentic pre-Columbian artifacts characteristically occur in a coarse, granular matrix that is shifted by major earthquakes, they often exhibit the unique scratch patterns known as gridding. In addition, true pre-Columbian artifacts show a darkening in surface color that is caused by centuries of exposure to the minute amounts of magnesium in the soil of the Americas.

The criteria above would be LEAST useful in judging the authenticity of which of the following?

(A) An ax head of black obsidian, unearthed from a kitchen midden ---> obsidian is smooth and suseptible to scratches, therefore should show signs of gridding. But the color wouldn`t darken...
(B) A pottery bowl with a red ocher design, found in the ruins of a temple --> the pottery bowl may not scratch so well but the color would darken
(C) A set of gold ear weights, ornamented with jasper pendants ---> gridding and darkening possible
(D) A black feather cape from a kingâ€™s burial vault ---> no gridding, and no darkening
(E) A multicolored woven sash found near the gravesite of a slave
---> no gridding, but darkening possible

Tough one, but between A and D I`ll take (D) because how can you scratch and darken an already black feather?

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Joined: 20 Nov 2005
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Schools: Completed at SAID BUSINESS SCHOOL, OXFORD - Class of 2008

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18 Aug 2006, 06:48
D

no scratch marks can be seen on feather cape.
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SAID BUSINESS SCHOOL, OXFORD - MBA CLASS OF 2008

Director
Joined: 17 Jul 2006
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18 Aug 2006, 08:30
Agree D
Director
Joined: 28 Dec 2005
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18 Aug 2006, 12:11
Good question, and great explanations. D seems correct.
Director
Joined: 29 Aug 2005
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18 Aug 2006, 21:15
A - No Black, Yes - Scratches
B - Yes Black, Yes - Scratches
C - Yes Black, Yes - Scratches
D - No Black, No - Scratches
E - Yes Black, No - Scratches

Hence it is a D
Manager
Joined: 05 Jun 2006
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Location: London

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19 Aug 2006, 15:01
D. Anything in a burial vault is unlikely to be subjected to conditions present in the soil of the america's.
Current Student
Joined: 29 Jan 2005
Posts: 5218

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19 Aug 2006, 19:35
xsports wrote:
D. Anything in a burial vault is unlikely to be subjected to conditions present in the soil of the america's.

That`s assuming that the vault was sealed air tight and never breeched due to earthquakes, soil erosion, grave diggers, etc.
Senior Manager
Joined: 15 Aug 2004
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21 Aug 2006, 00:41
OA is D
21 Aug 2006, 00:41
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