Fake or Fortune? Recent Finds on a 13th century Persian Lustre Bowl

In 2014-2015 the Ashmolean Museum was able to research and conserve one of its most handsome Islamic vessels. An accomplished example of 13th century Persian lustreware, the object had an unusually deformed profile and uneven wear that pointed at a number of past interventions. Some of these had already been uncovered in 2008 when the bowl was prepared for reinstallation in the revamped Ashmolean Islamic Middle East gallery. Yet it was only when examined more closely by the research team, including colleagues from the department of Archaeology and Cranfield University, that the extent and extraordinary nature of its “restoration” could be assessed. This presentation will share aspects of our collaborative research effort and reflect on the thorny issue of the faking and forging of Islamic ceramics in the early 20th century, when collecting Islamic decorative arts in Europe was at its peak.