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The E-Sylum:  Volume 9, Number 14, April 2, 2006, Article 11

ANCIENT COUNTERFEITERS INVENTED EARLY ELECTROPLATE-LIKE TECHNIQUE

It is said that counterfeiting is the world's second-oldest
profession.  A report in the journal Nature pointed out to us
by the Explorator Newsletter (via Arthur Shippee) concerns ancient
coins recently discovered to be contemporary counterfeits.

"An ingenious counterfeit-coin scam has been rumbled by scientists
in Italy. But no one is going to jail, because the forgers lived
more than 2,000 years ago.

Giuseppe Giovannelli of the University of Rome 'La Sapienza' and
his colleagues took a close look at what seemed to be a silver coin
minted in southern Italy in the third century BC. It turned out to
be a lump of lead with a thin silver coating.

This is not the first example of counterfeiting in the ancient world,
but the researchers say that in this case the silver coating seems
to have been created by a sophisticated chemical process.

"We are not yet aware of any other counterfeit coins like this one,"
says Giovannelli. "

"A couple of simple counterfeiting methods have been spotted before.
Old forgers could cover a metal lump with thin silver foil and heat
it to fuse the foil on to the surface. They could also fake the look
of a coin by chemically treating the surface of an alloy (which may
or may not have contained precious metals) to give it a silvery or
golden sheen.

But the microscopic structure of the silver layer in this case
differs from that produced by either of these methods. Instead it
looks like something generated by a much more modern electroplating
process, say researchers. Metallurgists of the time are not thought
to have known about this technique.

To solve the mystery, the Italian researchers devised a treatment
that produces an effect similar to electroplating, using only
materials known to be available in the third century BC."

To read the complete article, see: Full Story

  Wayne Homren, Editor

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