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There are many people who can't tell when a piece of pottery was made.
I appraised a mascara jar that was so old it dated back to the lifetime of the ancient Egyptian queen, Cleopatra, circa 50 BC.
Accuracy relative to the time of use of the fires will depend upon the source of the soot.
When the residue is so thin that only a sooty powder can be removed, it is difficult (if not impossible) to perform an alkali treatment to remove humic acids that may have come in contact with the material from overlying sediments or surface or ground water interactions.2- Date the bulk sherd organics comprised of the organics in the clay that survived the firing and absorbed organics from food or liquid storage For sherds that do not have any burned food residue extractable from the interior of the vessel, the next best thing is to date the “bulk sherd organics,” which are the total organic materials from the clay or tempering agents, anything the pot may have been used to hold during its usage, and any organic substances that have come into contact with the sherd since burial.
Dating the “bulk sherd organics” will typically yield either an accurate date if the included organic materials are all essentially contemporaneous to the time of use or a “minimum age” result, meaning that the pot is at least as old as the radiocarbon age indicates.
The lab is more than happy to extract the residue then return the sherd to clients as requested.
Please make sure to indicate on the data sheet if the sherd needs to be returned.