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I was talking with a customer a few days ago about pottery and how hard it can be to detect restoration. I mentioned to him that I had access to the analysis of some rare Quapaw pottery that the Museum of Native American History had sent out for CT scanning and study to a company called Rare Collections (www.rare-collections.com). This company is on the cutting edge of identifying reproduction and restored artifacts for museums and collectors around the world.
The analysis consisted of CT scanning, high-resolution photography, thermoluminescence (TL) testing, microscopy, UV and IR analysis. While we can look at a flint point under a 10x loop or scope and see what we need on the surface - when it comes to pottery, you need to be able to see inside it to actually see all that needs to be seen.
A few images from the analysis have been graciously provided for this posting by Rare-Collections (© 2007 Rare Collections) and it is greatly appreciated as the sharing of infomation about topics such as this needs to published.
This deer/fawn effigy pot was restored from both original and unrelated fragments. The lower portion of the pot appears original (including the split toe hooves). In addition, the head appears original (and related to the base of the object). One “painted spot” (one of the apparent deer/fawn spots) on the proper left side has been identified as being original to the piece and seems to validate the restorative painting on the upper portion of the pot (although it has been restored using unrelated fragments, etc.). The 3D CT view clearly illustrates the condition of the pot in addition to confirming the associated and unrelated fragments.
Again, I thought these images were interesting and worth sharing and serve as an example of what can be done with today's technology. They also provide a good example of how the outside of pottery can easily hide what is under its surface.
** My thanks to theMuseum of Native American History and Rare Collections for allowing me to use these images for this article **
Advanced Pottery Testing
This Otter teapot was restored from original pieces with a small amount of filler material and in-painting.
This teapot was restored from a few original pieces and has extensive over-painting.