via PBS.org, 09 Feb 2019: Based on a recently-published paper in Journal of Archaeological Science, an analysis of ceramics from the Java Sea wreck reveals that the prized Qingbai ceramics were produced in four kilns across China, some high-quality, while others mass-produced ‘counterfeits’ to meet rising demands.
In a study published today in the Journal of Archaeological Science, a team of scientists pinpoints the origins of several of the Chinese ceramics on board. The chemical composition of the ship’s glazed, bluish-white qingbai wares shows they were forged at four different kiln sites across China—and while some were high-quality, luxury items destined for the social elite, others appear to be more akin to counterfeits, likely mass produced to meet rising demand in markets abroad.
“I think these are brilliant results,” says Elisabeth Holmqvist, an archaeologist and material scientist at the University of Helsinki in Finland who was not involved in the study. “This is when geochemical data really becomes valuable for archaeological questions: It provides the evidence, and then we can go back to the socioeconomic context. That’s the greatest value in this kind of research.”
This paper evaluates the use of portable x-ray fluorescence (pXRF) on glazes and pastes for sourcing Chinese porcelains from the 12th-13th century Java Sea Shipwreck (JSW) collection at the Field Museum. Three types of qingbai (bluish-white) wares from the JSW collection were chosen for pXRF analysis. Samples from four kiln complexes in China—Jingdezhen, Dehua, Huajiashan, and Minqing, hypothesized to be potential sources of the shipwreck’s qingbai ceramics based on visual inspection—were also analyzed to establish reference groups. Results from kiln samples show that different kiln complexes can be clearly differentiated by pXRF analysis of glazes. Based on pXRF analysis of ceramic samples from the JSW, there appear to be four compositional groups, and each group closely matches one of the four kiln reference groups. These findings support the use of pXRF on glazes, especially when pastes are difficult to access, as a method for identifying the potential sources for overseas cargos found distant from production contexts for Chinese porcelains.
via Journal of Archaeological Science Reports: Portable XRF analysis of Qingbai from the Java Sea Shipwreck.
Forty-one ceramic boxes from the twelfth- or thirteenth-century Java Sea Shipwreck were analyzed at the Elemental Analysis Facility at Chicago’s Field Museum using nondestructive portable x-ray fluorescence (PXRF). Twenty-two samples have a qingbai-type glaze and nineteen are painted ware with painted black decorations originally covered by a lead-based green glaze. The goals of the analysis were to (1) test whether visually similar ceramics shared similar elemental compositions; (2) identify ceramics that might have been made at different kiln sites (or from different paste recipes); and (3) determine if compositional groups in the ceramic dataset differentiated using PXRF are archaeologically meaningful. Based on this study, although PXRF can be successfully used to some degree to differentiate between different groups of qingbai-type ceramics, more research needs to be done on its applicability to painted ware pastes.
In this article we draw on suites of new information to reinterpret the date of the Java Sea Shipwreck. The ship was a Southeast Asian trading vessel carrying a large cargo of Chinese ceramics and iron as well as luxury items from outside of China, such as elephant tusks and resin. Initially the wreck, which was recovered in Indonesia, was placed temporally in the mid- to late 13th century based on a single radiocarbon sample and ceramic styles. We employ new data, including multiple radiocarbon dates and inscriptions found on some of the ceramics, to suggest that an earlier chronological placement be considered.
Unique historical treasures worth tens of millions of pounds were yesterday gathering dust in store rooms in Jakarta after being impounded by police.
The 250,000 pieces of Chinese ceramics and Arabic and Persian glassware were recovered from a 1,000-year-old wreck in the Java Sea off Indonesia. Found with them were 13,000 Indian pearls, jewellery, about 1,000 rubies and sapphires and several gold pieces.