Odd Language #140: How or Why?

“Mary Anne had wanted to keep the original, but that was being analyzed as no bit of synthetic wool had ever been analyzed in human history, and she had to settle for a duplicate.” — Niven, Larry; Pournelle, Jerry; Barnes, Steven; _Beowulf’s Children_; p. 236 (top of page)

The issue: “as” can mean “in the manner of” or “because”. The meaning intended was the first, but if the item being analyzed was previously unknown, it could have been the second meaning.