Colonel Robert E. A. Lillie, a U.S. Army officer posted in Peru, acquired this intriguing vessel in 1945–1946. The vessel’s polished black surface and mold-formed production technology has similarities to wares made by Chimú potters on the north coast of Peru during AD 1100–1470. In prehispanic pottery, plants were sometimes represented, but grapes are an Old World crop and weren’t introduced on the continent until the Spanish arrived. Vineyards were widespread on the Peruvian coast by the 1540s, but although 16th-century potters might have been familiar with grapes, the finish on this vessel and the apparent efforts to “age” it suggest that it was produced in the 20th century to deceive gullible collectors.
In honor of the University of Michigan’s 2017 bicentennial, we are celebrating the remarkable archaeological and ethnographic collections and rich legacy of research and teaching at the Museum of Anthropological Archaeology by posting one entry a day for 200 days. The entries will highlight objects from the collections, museum personalities, and UMMAA expeditions. The Kelsey Museum of Archaeology is also posting each day for 200 days on Twitter and Facebook (follow along at #KMA200). After the last post, an exhibition on two centuries of archaeology at U-M opens at the Kelsey. Visit the exhibit—a joint project of the UMMAA and the Kelsey—from October 18, 2017 to May 27, 2018.