While Ersang could not conclusively link the dish to what is known as the Binh Thuan shipwreck, she learned that accretions from the dish’s surface had been identified as aragonite, a form of calcium carbonate formed biologically through marine organisms. Also, shell imprints on the surface were visible under magnification. These indicated the dish had been underwater and could explain its dull appearance and porosity. This information changed Ersang’s treatment plans. Because the dish was now more likely to be used for research as an archaeological artifact rather than as a decorative object destined for display, Ersang took a more conservative approach. Instead of inpainting all the cracks and fills on dish’s exterior, for example, she planned to leave cracks exposed and repairs uncovered to convey a sense of the passage of time.
The Chinese Zhangzhou dish has been a great treatment
project for Ersang, who grew up in China and has grown more interested
in her heritage since beginning her conservation studies. An objects
major, Ersang also added a minor in paper studies to better prepare her
to work with Asian art.