Advanced Analytical Services


Sometimes called ‘tree-ring dating’, dendrochronology is the analysis of patterns in tree growth rings to derive information about when the timber originated, such as climate patterns, chronological date and geographical source. Primarily used in art applications for the study of panels made from oak (Quercus spp.), it is an enormously powerful tool for establishing a time from when a painting must have been created.

Radiocarbon dating ("C14" testing)

Radiocarbon or “C14” dating uses the amount of Carbon 14 isotope in organic material as a marker for dating by comparing it with historical atmospheric data. Used in fields as diverse as archeology and climate science this is a valuable tool for those of us looking to identify when a work of art was created.

Bomb-curve’ radiocarbon

In the 1950s and 60s, atmospheric nuclear weapons testing resulted in a sharp increase in atmospheric radiocarbon levels, first detected in 1955. Levels peaked in 1963-4, when concentrations in the northern hemisphere reached nearly twice that of pre-bomb levels. Since the Nuclear Test Ban Treaty came into effect in 1963, radiocarbon levels have been decreasing rapidly so that by 2004 it had declined to about 10% above that of the pre-bomb level. The shape and intensity of this ‘bomb-pulse’ is well documented, offering the possibility of dating organic materials originating since the late 1950s until now with a resolution of just a few years. Use of the bomb curve technique for detecting forgeries is not new and was published as long ago as 1972. However, there is new interest and research on this technique meaning that we can now offer it as a regular service. This technique has been successfully used to date canvas, wooden supports, paper and natural paint media.

We also offer:

  • Paper analysis and dating

  • Wood identification

  • Lead Isotope analysis