The technology of Islamic metalwork in the British Museum

Project team



  • Rachel Ward, former curator, British Museum

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Mamluk style silver and brass bowl, fourteenth century

An analytical and technical study of metal domestic vessels and utensils made in the lands under Islamic rule, seventh to eighteenth centuries, from the collection of the British Museum.

Almost all of the objects are brass, finely decorated with engraving and precious metal inlays. The research aim is to scientifically establish the material compositions and manufacturing techniques of these artefacts and to publish the findings in a series of academic articles which can then feed into an in-depth catalogue of the collection.



S. La Niece, ‘Sand casting in the Islamic World’, Barbara Armbruster, Heidemarie Eilbracht, Oliver Hahn and Orsolya Heinrich-Tamáska (Eds.), Verborgenes Wissen. Innovation und Transformation feinschmiedetechnischer Entwicklungen im diachronen Vergleich, Berlin: Edition Topoi, 2016, 263—276

S. La Niece, R. Ward, D. Hook and P. Craddock, ‘Medieval Islamic Copper Alloys’, in Scientific Research on Ancient Asian Metallurgy (eds) P. Jett et al, Archetype, London, 2012, 248-254

S. La Niece, ‘Islamic copper-based metalwork from the Eastern Mediterranean: Technical investigation and Conservation issues’. In Rozeik, Roy and Saunders (eds) Conservation and the Eastern Mediterranean. IIC, London 2010, 35-39

S. La Niece, ‘Maitre Mahmud et le travail d'incrustation de metal: une perspective scientifique’, exhibition catalogue, Venise et l’Orient 828 - 1797, Gallimard, Paris, 2006, 226-229

S. La Niece, ‘Medieval Islamic Metal Technology’, in Scientific Research in the Field of Asian Art: Proceedings of the First Forbes Symposium at the Freer Gallery of Art (eds) P. Jett et al, Archetype, London, 2003, 90-96

P. Craddock, S. La Niece, D. Hook, , ‘Brass in the Medieval Islamic World’, in 2000 Years of Zinc and Brass (ed) P. Craddock, BM OP 50: London, 1990 (revised 2nd edition 1998) 73-113

R. Ward, S. La Niece, D.R. Hook and R. White, ‘Veneto-Saracenic metalwork: an analysis of the bowls and incense burners in the British Museum’ In Trade and discovery (eds) D.R. Hook and D. Gaimster. BM OP 109, London, 1995. 235-258

R. Ward, Islamic Metalwork. British Museum press, London, 1993

Image: Mamluk style silver and brass bowl, fourteenth century