Originally Published in the Central States Archaeological Journal, Vol.53, No.2, pg.59
Real patination/mineralization cannot be easily removed. False patination which can simulate this chemical reaction can often be flicked off the host projectile with a fingernail. Modern agers have occasionally removed ferric oxide deposits and reglued them to the surface of replicas. And under strong magnification the glue residue will show prominently as little shiny areas surrounding the deposits.
Who would have thought that someone would go to such extremes just to make a more convincing argument on the authenticity of an artifact? But such tactics are not limited to artifact preservation; coins, stamps, weapons and antique furniture have similar plagues.
As with everything collectible, modern agers have sought ways to simulate nature's work. While it was seldom seen as part of the equation of replicas/ fakes prior to the early 1970's, purveyors of replicas realized quickly that serious collectors were talking about the difference of flint examples that revealed ferric oxide and mineralization that occurred on genuine/ authentic projectiles as opposed to modern lithics. Recognizing that without some trace evidence of antiquity, many investors turned down the modern items as respectable investments.
Enter something that looks like it! Some learned that any reasonable example could be enhanced simply by rubbing a mild steel bar across the high points; then let it age with a little time and defy the experts to tell the difference. Lucky for us, some rubbed too much iron traces and we know it is fake! Do you ever wonder about those super fine projectiles that are explained as tools lost by ancient makers? Over eons of time, some might have been lost, out of the hundred million produced? But not very often! Hunters depended on their projectile points to provide food for their families, so they probably were not very careless.
That raises the another point. Every legitimate authentic projectile shows some use and resharpening until it was exhausted and discarded.Those areas of rework will show patination and mineralization too as those areas have undergone the same chemical and physical effects as the artifact itself. So without authentic ancient age and evidence of use and resharpening, we need to take a closer look at the vast offerings made available to the collecting fraternity.
“Used by Permission of the Author”
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