Objectives

The objectives of this policy are twofold:
  1. To try to ensure that the Unit does not wittingly, or otherwise, encourage the trade in antiquities which have uncertain provenance and which might, therefore, have been looted from archaeological sites, or stolen from communities unable to protect their heritage.
  2. To try to ensure that radiocarbon dates measured by the Unit are not used misleadingly to 'demonstrate' the authenticity of an object when it is sold. This is to be avoided because radiocarbon dates on the material from which an art object has been created can only ever prove that an object is not authentic.

Implementation

We make two conditions on the acceptance, by the Unit, of antiquities for dating which is not for the purposes of academic research (where we expect similar safeguards to already be in place):
  1. Details of the ownership of the object since 1970 (the date of the UNESCO convention on the trade in antiquities) will be provided to the laboratory along with copies of supporting documentation if requested.
  2. The submitter will agree not to use the radiocarbon date directly in the description or advertising of the object should it, at some stage, be sold.
In the case of material which is submitted to the laboratory for radiocarbon isotope measurement by other radiocarbon labs, the Unit will make every effort to ensure that the material submitted has been subject to the same level of scrutiny on provenance.