Posted: Oct 05, 2015 7:08 pm
by Spearthrower
There are a horde of problems associated with dating by ink I posted on the other thread connected to this topic: ... l#p2269573

Ink testing is sometimes used, but it is largely relative dating rather than absolute. In other words, you need to have a lot of other information aside from the ink to date it.

The 2 main systems of ink dating are static and dynamic.

The former means that you determine the chemical composition of the ink and date it by comparative evidence of that kind of ink's manufacturing - when was this ink being processed and manufactured, where, and would the writer of this document have access to that supply. If these add up, you have a time band of possibility.

Other examples include assessment of styles of writing, including spelling, grammar, the type of tool used to put the ink on the page - all comparative to other already dated things.

The latter means that you want to know when the ink was put on the page regardless of its manufacturing, and other potentially erroneous misdirections; for example, we could write in Shakespearian grammar today, so it wouldn't establish a categorical date for the use of that grammar. It's 'dynamic' because it's measuring changes in the ink's composition over time. To simplify (mostly because I never really got that involved with this and I've forgotten nearly as much as I ever learned), the dryness of the ink is measured - this doesn't mean 'dry' in the sense of the ink originally being liquid, but dry with respect to the solubility of chemicals remaining in the ink. For this kind of dating, you still need a relative component - an ink of known age to compare to. But techniques in this area are expanding rapidly, particularly in the field of chromatography.

However, ultimately the dating still requires other inks or relevant material culture of known dates to use as comparative markers, and I guess they're pretty sparse.