Study on pre-islamic painted pottery from Louis Vanden Berghe’s Fars survey (1950-1955)

In the framework of her PhD, Possum Pincé (Ghent University) has undertaken an archaeometrical study on pre-islamic painted pottery from excavations and surveys conducted by the late prof. dr. L. Vanden Berghe (Ghent University & Royal Museums of Art and History, Brussels) during the 1950’s. These ceramics, kept in the Near Eastern collection of the Royal Museums of Art and History, provide a sample of Iranian pre-islamic pottery that is representative over time and space. More specific, the dataset contains more than 1500 sherds and pots from 53 sites spread across Iran. This work is made under the supervision of Prof. dr. E. Haerinck and Prof. dr. P. Vandenabeele (Ghent University).

hXRF and Raman Spectroscopy


The first applied analytical technique is handheld X-Ray Fluorescence (hXRF), a non-destructive technique to study the elemental composition of ceramics. For identification of the pigments of the painted decoration, Raman Spectroscopy is utilized. This non-destructive analytical technique provides molecular information of the pigments. It is based on energy differences, which are characteristic for each molecule. The results of these geochemical analyses reveal distinct regional and chronological differences, allowing a renewed classification of the studied ceramic. In turn, this work provides a future reference framework for the identification of pre-Islamic pottery. Moreover, the acquired data will be used to shed light on the development of pottery technology and on questions concerning production centers and the origin of primary materials.


Instrument: Handheld Innovx Delta Analyser

LT = 300 s, 40 kV, 0.7 mA, air, no filter, distance: as close as possible, aperture 5 mm²


Instrument: SENTERRA - Bruker

Thin section petrography


In addition, Thin Section Petrography is applied to a selection of the ceramics. This technique allows the identification of rocks and minerals in the ceramics so that the geological characteristics of the raw materials can be determined. It also gives information about the craft technology and the traces of interaction with the material (chaîne opératoire).

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