Date of Award

August 2021

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts


Art History

First Advisor

Derek B Counts

Second Advisor

David Pacifico


Authenticity, ICP-MS, Luristan, Luristan Bronze, Provenance, University Collections


The University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Art Collection (UWMAC) holds a group of supposed Luristan bronzes with limited provenances. The lack of provenance, archaeological or otherwise, coupled with the prevalence of forged Luristan bronzes across private and public collections introduced questions of authenticity regarding the UWMAC’s collection of bronzes. To address these questions, the typical art historical and visual analyses were conducted to supplement the chemical compositional analysis done using inductively-coupled plasma mass spectrometry. Of the three artifacts successfully sampled and tested, the Ibex Whetstone Handle (1985.002.38) was determined to be iron while the Master of Animals Finial for Standard (1985.002.48) and Hair Ornament (1985.002.45) were bronze. The Master of Animals Finial conformed closely to the canon of Luristan bronzes while the Hair Ornament had few comparanda from either excavated artifacts or those found via art markets. Most likely, the UWMAC “Luristan bronzes” have a mix of authenticities, favoring forgeries.