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It relies upon the fact that all living organisms absorb low levels of a radioactive isotope known as carbon 14, a heavy form of carbon which is present in low levels in the atmosphere.After death, levels of this isotope in animal and plant remains will slowly decay away, meaning scientists can estimate their age from the amount of carbon 14 that remains in the sample.Their work was detailed in a paper in the latest issue of the journal .For over 50 years, scientists and researchers have relied on carbon dating to find the exact age of organic matter.Radiocarbon dating, which is used to calculate the age of certain organic materials, has been found to be unreliable, and sometimes wildly so - a discovery that could upset previous studies on climate change, scientists from China and Germany said in a new paper.

Did you question whether that vase had been correctly attributed to the Ming dynasty?

"It was embarrassing to have to agree with them," Mr Rogers told the BBC News website.

The 4m-long linen sheet was damaged in several fires since its existence was first recorded in France in 1357, including a church blaze in 1532.

“There are some about which there are serious questions of authenticity and there are others we think are genuine but actually might be fakes.” Materials characterization techniques are central to identifying these fakes and to answering many other questions that the museum's curators may have about artifacts.

The Museum of Fine Arts (MFA), Boston, has an enviable collection ranging from ancient Egyptian mummies to European paintings.

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