‘X-Ray Gun’ Helps Pinpoint Origin of Chinese Pottery From Ancient Shipwreck
(Courthouse News) – Archaeologists used an “X-ray gun” to determine the origin of ancient Chinese porcelain found in an 800-year-old shipwreck, right down to the site of the kiln where the pottery was fired.
With the knowledge of where the ceramics found in the shipwreck were made, researchers have an enhanced understanding of trade routes of the time.
“It’s amazing that we can pinpoint the production area of materials from an 800-year-old shipwreck,” Xu said, adding the knowledge of ancient trade relations “is very important for us to understand the present.”
The ceramics were made about 2,000 miles from the site of the wreck, and the new findings add to an emerging understanding of Asian trade routes in the 12th and 13th centuries.
“The ancient world was more interconnected than a lot of people thought,” said Gary Feinman, co-author of the study and anthropology curator at the Field Museum. “We’re taught to associate vast trade networks with Europeans like Magellan and Marco Polo, but Europeans weren’t a big part of this network that went from Asia to Africa. Globalization isn’t just a recent phenomenon – it’s not just Eurocentric, not just tied to modern capitalism.”
Ceramics from the Field Museum’s Java Sea shipwreck collection being analyzed by portable X-ray fluorescence.
(Field Museum/Kate Golembiewski)