Ink dating

The problems Determining the age of a document to find out whether it is authentic is a task influenced by the type of paper on which it has been written, the pressure of the stroke -the amount of ink deposited when the writing was done- or even the technique used.

Until now, document dating methods have been able to indicate whether the writing was relatively new (less than 90 days) or older (over two years), yet this chronological accuracy is insufficient in certain cases, above all in judicial ones.

These are often very tricky questions to answer and frequently arise in judicial contexts.

The UPV/EHU's research team --comprising the professor of Analytical Chemistry Rosa María Alonso, Dr Itxaso San Román of the Farmartem group of the Department of Analytical Chemistry, and Dr Luis Bartolomé of the Central Analysis Service of Bizkaia (SGIker)-- has developed the Datink method that allows the period of time the ink may have remained on the paper to be determined and its age to be ascertained.

EUROFINS FORENSIC SERVICES is fortunate in having the backing of its world renowned analytical chemistry section.

This means that we can use high end techniques to examine inks such as Matrix Assisted Laser Desorption Ionisation Time of Flight Mass Spectrometry.

In these cases, significant dating errors occur because the type of paper used and the mass/quantity of the ink deposited influence the analysis.

So Datink offers a more accurate, less damaging, less intrusive and less harmful result. The excavation work has demonstrated that the settlement, which is now home to the small Kurdish ...

Nevertheless, this methodology is a pilot experience that requires further in-depth research when it comes to evaluating the limits of the applicability of the various inks and makes of ballpoint pens, thus reducing its potential limitations. Historical research using forensic fingerprinting techniques on the wax seals of thousands of medieval documents will reveal new insights into 12th to 14th century British society, help determine how ...

As Luis Bartolomé pointed out, "what is interesting about this method is that it can more accurately determine the age of the stroke produced by the ballpoint pen.

So the team used the same procedure as that used to analyse the samples produced for the research. This technique managed to spot the age of the ink on documents written up to five years previously and with an approximation margin of about 20%.

In other words, when applying this analysis procedure, the team can indicate whether the document was written 1,500 days previously (just over four years) with a margin of 300 days either way.

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