Under the surface of the Herat ewer


Microscopic examination and X-ray imaging revealed that the body of the ewer is one seamless cylinder of brass, formed by hammering, with a separate disc of brass sealing off the base. The neck is another seamless cylinder of thin brass, spreading out at the top to form the spout and slotted into the top of the body. The high relief work of animals and birds on the shoulder and neck shows particular skill.

X-radiography and computed tomography (CT) imaging have shown that the birds (parakeets or pheasants) along the shoulder are hollow and that they are a continuous part of the metal wall of the jug, rather than being made separately and soldered on, as had been initially suggested. A method by which this could have been done is by knocking the metal of the jug from the inside using a snarling iron with a shaped tip before the base and neck were attached.

The Herat ewer can be seen in Room 42, Case 4 ‘Inlaid metalwork: Herat and Mosul ewers.