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The earliest use of iron gall ink is hard to establish.
The reaction between tannin and iron salt to create a colored product was already known in Antiquity. D.) describes an experiment in which he dripped a solution of iron salt on papyrus that had been soaked in a tannin solution.
When properly manufactured, the soot could contain up to 80% carbon particles.In contrast, some iron gall ink on parchment can, even after centuries, appear deep black and might easily be mistaken for a carbon ink.To distinguish iron gall ink from carbon ink or other inks such as bistre or sepia, a quantitative test for the presence of iron in an ink line is a useful method for determining its identity.The spectral characteristics of the ink are determined in units of percent reflectance of the active compounds in the ink so that the age of the ink can be computed by reference to known reaction rates.A plurality of dyes having differing reaction rates may be added to the ink to enable precise measurements to be made over different time intervals.2.
Iron gall ink was easier to manufacture, generally did not clog the writing tool, and was hard to remove from the surface on which it was applied - a valued characteristic for official record keeping.