In order to date wooden artefacts scientifically, and African art objects in particular, two more or less acknowledged methods have been available to date, which nevertheless have their shortcomings: dendrochronology, which in the case of African art, however, generally lacks in comparative data and the 14C method, which has admittedly gained in accuracy over the past few years for more recently made items, but is very expensive.
Whether Milanís Museo díArte e Scienza is in a position to age-date wood by means of its inexpensive IR spectroscopic method is viewed in a critical light from a scientific standpoint.
On the other hand, tests carried out by the Museo d'Arte e Scienza together with two museums, and an investigation of its own, point to the fact that the method is viable: out of a total of 21 replicable measurements, 18 are apparently correct and 3 incorrect (an old carved pole from Cameroon and 2 beechwood items from the Getty Museum). The method appears to have potential. And yet the wrong dating results pose the question of where the weaknesses of IR spectroscopy still lie:
These questions must be cleared up before the method gets the recognition it may deserve. This article aims also to spur an exchange of experience and launch an appeal to scientists, and of course restorers, as well as museums, which own plenty of pieces of known age, to pursue the matter further.