Explore artefacts made over a period of more than 1000 years in the heart of the Islamic world.
Decorated pottery is not usually the most highly regarded or expensive of the arts in any culture, but is very widely made and used. Pottery breaks, but it does not decay, rust or rot, and it cannot be recycled. It therefore survives in large quantities where other materials have disappeared.
Pottery can be used to follow technical developments, to understand fashions in style, to judge economic activity and to track trade across the continents.
The sherds below were found in the site of Fustat, the early Islamic city which became the rubbish dump for the new city of Cairo, capital of Egypt, in the late 1100s. They include a variety of pieces made in Egypt, imported from Syria and Iraq, as well as pieces of Chinese manufacture imported as part of an active trade across the Indian Ocean to South-east Asia and beyond.