New high security forensic solution for ‘at risk’ Museum and Archaeological sites

Sadly, it is a fact that there are increasingly organized groups of thieves who are targeting the World’s cultural sites, due to the seemingly insatiable appetite of, normally, first-world buyers for the illicit goods. The situation is so bad that a number of Archaeologists and Conservators operating in these areas of the World, albeit reluctantly, state that, in their case, ‘retention trumps conservation’.  Their belief is that the enhanced forensic traceability afforded by SmartWater® technology will increase the risk to first world buyers who, currently, have little to worry about in terms of sanction by law enforcement agencies, who struggle to prove provenance of a suspected stolen artifact.

As a result, the SmartWater Foundation has funded in-depth research to develop a range of new products specifically designed for use on historic artifacts. The research involved partnerships with academic establishments across the World, with specific interest in developing new test processes that would assess the impact of SmartWater on various substrates under severe environmental conditions, while maintaining its ability to provide provenance data to law enforcement agencies.

SmartWater being applied to  glassware
SmartWater being applied to glassware
SmartWater is practically invisible to the naked eye but fluoresces yellow under UV black light
SmartWater is practically invisible to the naked eye but fluoresces yellow under UV black light

Currently, SmartWater forensic solutions are only being made available to protect artifacts and objects made from the following substrates (strictly subject to the application instructions):

  • Stone (including marble)
  • Ceramic tile
  • Pottery
  • Glass
  • Ivory

It should be noted that the visual impact of SmartWater on the above substrates, particularly those of a porous nature, is similar to that produced by the B67 varnish used during the cataloguing of objects.

Further research on the application of SmartWater on other substrates such as canvas, paper, papyrus and vellum are continuing and it is hoped that further suitable forensic solutions will be made available soon.