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Shedding Light and Spilling Oil: Forgery Identification and Provenance Determination of Ceramic Artifacts through the Case Study of the CLARC Collection Oil Lamps

Savannah Bishop

Brandeis University

This project seeks to examine the way in which traditional typological studies and modern scientific analysis can be combined to provide a better understanding of the chronological and geographical provenance of a collection, as well as to better detect counterfeit ceramics. To achieve this aim, a case study of the 32 ill-provenienced ceramic oil lamps found within the Brandeis University Classical Studies Artifact Research Collection (CLARC) was conducted. Through this study, the provenance of each of the 29 authentic oil lamps was determined and the 3 inauthentic lamps were identified and confirmed. This scientific analysis resulted in the development of a methodology combining traditional typological and research approaches with readily available non-destructive scientific analysis (3D scanning and printing, x-ray fluorescence analysis) to confirm counterfeit work. The nature of such a methodology means that it could be readily applied to a range of similar ceramic artifacts.

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