A new method that allows museums to mark precious artifacts with a unique invisible code will soon allow easier tracing of stolen objects and artworks. Already, 273,000 objects in two Iraqi museums have been marked.
The project, funded by the British Council, was developed by a team at Reading University in the UK, using SmartWater, a special chemical formula developed by SmartWater Group, an insurance theft prevention company and its non-profit affiliate. A special preparation is applied to the objects, giving them a unique ID.
The Reading team, funded by SmartWater Foundation, determined that the liquid causes no damage to stone, pottery, metal or glass, and can withstand intense heat, harsh solvents and extreme environmental conditions for decades.