Since its inauguration in 1888, the Rathgen Research Laboratory of the National Museums in Berlin has been challenged by authenticity questions on cultural heritage objects. In the setting of an ever-growing market, often intertwined with the increasing global impact of illicit traffic, scientific investigations can contribute equally to art-historical, or archaeological expertise when solving questions of authenticity, and should therefore always be included when significant values are at stake. Looted or stolen artifacts, copies, fakes, and forgeries have been an intrinsic element of the market since ever, and only selectively addressed in a trans-disciplinary, more holistic way. This paper makes the case for a reliable, state-of-the-art analysis and illustrates the potential benefits of such a scientific approach to authenticity questions in selected examples: 1. the case of German art forger, Wolfgang Beltracchi; 2. brass objects of alleged Benin and Ife provenance.
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