So I'm attempting to verify that this bowl is authentic Pre-Columbian Narino but I have no idea how to. I thought the hard part was getting it cheap at an estate auction but it turns out this is the hard part lol

Based on the examples I see it looks authentic but I'd like to hire someone to authenticate it. Is there a good way to do this for ancient pottery? Do colleges or museums offer services for this?

more images here

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    A quick Google produces results for commercial services doing this, since you're willing to pay. Or you could try a quality auction house, who will probably have their own authenticators.
    – Steve Bird
    Commented May 21, 2020 at 16:15
  • Hey thanks for the link. I am willing to pay to have it validated, but is there free services or ways to accomplish this for free? Commented May 21, 2020 at 16:33
  • Are you just looking for an expert to cast his eye over it and be fairly sure it's authentic or do you want scientific proof that it's the right age and materials? The former you might get for free (or perhaps the cost of a pint), the latter is probably going to cost something (and will result in sample material being removed from the bowl).
    – Steve Bird
    Commented May 21, 2020 at 16:54
  • To be honest I'm not sure what I need. I guess I'd be content for now with just knowing it's authentic. I'm not looking to sell it. I just don't want to have fake things in my collection. I also want to learn how to figure it out for myself too. Commented May 21, 2020 at 19:44
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    wet the clay and then smell it. it should have a musky earthy type scent to it. Also the area you wet should dry out rather quickly. Though these two tests alone wouldnt guarantee authenticity, it should help weed out most contemporary reproductions.
    – ed.hank
    Commented May 22, 2020 at 14:18

1 Answer 1


I eventually found this lady Dr. Lori, who has a really great youtube channel on all types of antiques.

I went to her site to pay for an appraisal. She does free appraisals if the value of your item is less than $60

I just submitted my bowl - we'll see https://www.drloriv.com/

UPDATED 27-May-2020

So Dr. Lori got back to me with her report and it turns out that it's an authentic piece! It's pretty common so not worth a ton but hey, better to have old crap not worth much than fake crap not worth much I guess.

Description: A ceramic decorated attributed Pre-Columbian bowl with a large loss area at the rim featuring concentric circular decoration that unites the decoration of the rim of the bowl to its center with a repeating pattern of four-legged (woodland) small animalistic figures with exaggerated eye in profile, large head, and curly tail in the PreColumbian Narino style. Based on the photographs provided by the owner, the piece is in good, stable condition with a clean break at the loss area of the rim and the remainder of the bowl shows signs of age and condition traits consistent with age and appropriate wear.

Size: 3 x 6 inches

Evaluation with Comparable sales records: In my opinion and based on the image and information that was provided to me by the client, this piece provides strong evidence to a typical piece(s) of its type by the artist or firm or comparable pieces by comparable artists or firms of the period, status, and manner. The listing below is not an endorsement of any of the sales outlets listed.

Comparable sales records (shown below) reflect recorded sales of similar works in type, style, execution or other aspects, including: Pre-Columbian, Ecuador/Colombia, Narino, circa 1200 CE. Hand built bowl, ceramic, shallow, negative resist decoration on the interior, zoomorphic motif with staring eyes, star motif, approximately 9 x 3 inches, Artemis Gallery, Louisville, CO, $275.00

Your Item(s): The evaluation is based on the appraiser’s opinion per objects evaluated. In the opinion of this appraiser, upon authentication, and based on the information and images provided by the client, the appraised value range for the original work(s) of art or vintage or antique object(s) presented by the client is $150.00 in its current condition, retail value based on the current market, condition, pedigree or provenance, history of the object and the original owner, location, and other factors.

  • I'm not sure why my answer got a downvote? It's literally the exact answer to the OP question lol Commented May 22, 2020 at 15:15
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    What was her answer? Commented May 23, 2020 at 16:02
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    So she said it was worth more than $60 on Friday. I'm still waiting on the actual report. The email said it could be 10 days to generate it but it'll be from her, include the history of the item and comparable recent sales. I'll make sure to update this when I get it back Commented May 24, 2020 at 9:31
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    @AaronBrick see update for her response :-) Commented May 27, 2020 at 15:40

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