Sonic fingerprints safeguard Italy’s art

A near-perfect copy of a precious funeral urn called the Cratere dei Niobidi sits in an Italian cafe close to the University of Palermo. Restorer Lorella Pellegrino spied it there one morning before meeting with professor Pietro Cosentino, a geophysicist, to analyze the actual fifth-century-B.C. artifact.

They were examining the real urn to see if it was healthy enough to loan for an exhibit in Beijing when Cosentino stumbled on the idea of using “sonic fingerprinting” to help end Italy’s ongoing problem with faked and stolen artwork.

“We started joking about how (the urn) might come back from China cloned,” said Pellegrino, who works with the former seismologist much as a physician might with an X-ray expert. “That was when Cosentino realized the analysis could serve another purpose.” Full story at wired.