TurkoTek Discussion Boards

Subject  :  State of the Art
Author  :  Jim Allen mailto:%20abey@vei.net
Date  :  09-10-2001 on 05:07 p.m.
I have first hand information about the state of the art in textile dating. If any one of you were to find just a possibly important classical textile and took it to the MET this is what would happen. It would be handled with white gloves and you would be admonished about something. You don't dare tell her it was just in your trunk. Next into a specially constructed light room you would go. Last time I saw it had eight different light conditions produced by a variety of sources. Then into the dark room for a high output ultraviolet scan. Big books written in Japanese come out with ostensibly true representations of every known dye in recent history. The piece is put on a large table and a big Nikon microscope moves over it and displays the image on a big monitor. Here every conceivable nuance of spin, ply, and weave are scrutinized. If she hasn't by now handed it back to you with a nice try Charlie you get to go into the really far out stuff. It was ten years ago and they were already using a surface scanning technology and dye analysis with the history of the dyes taken into account is a really powerful tool. The big decisions about really expensive expenditures are always subjected to C-14 analysis. Museums don't fool around and they tend to use one primary supplier. They constantly run internal quality control experiments, as I have seen first hand. Ten years ago the cut off was 1700 AD for AJT Jull at Arizona to make a definitive statement about the age of a wool sample from a weaving. The important thing here is that to learn this you must have the piece in the first place. The museums have already tested their inventories. Guess what, thay are never going to tell you the results. Jim Allen

Subject  :  Re:State of the Art
Author  :  Steve Price mailto:%20sprice@hsc.vcu.edu
Date  :  09-10-2001 on 06:13 p.m.
Hi Jim,

Is there some sane reason why a museum would invest the time and money in such studies and then keep the results secret? I can't think of a single one.


Steve Price

Subject  :  Re:State of the Art
Author  :  Jim Allen mailto:%20abey@vei.net
Date  :  09-10-2001 on 07:24 p.m.
You know I was sorry the instant I posted that message since it ended on such a distasteful note. The affective dissonance apparent in my last sentence resulted from the chagrin I experienced at discovering that very fact. I must admit I was never given a straight answer concerning their practice but I have come to this conclusion. There is far more to lose than there is to gain for those individuals in control of those important institutions' collections. Scientific method be damned, the reputation of their museum's not going to be rattled on their watch! This isn't to say that the information isn't shared. It is even shared publically, but in publications you are unlikely to ever run across. To his credit Jon Thompsons' name turns up in those publications. I remember one interesting article he wrote about the origin of the Pyzarik carpet. You might take a serious look at that article and compare it to the findings by Frank Hiebert concerning a highly developed weaving tradition amongst the new civilization he has just uncovered in Central Asia. If you can show that Thompson arrived at the right conclusion via reasonable deductive methodology then you might pay more attention to his method. As I remember it, his thesis rested upon some very specific peculiarities concerning the Pyzariks' dyes. Jim Allen

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