This ceramic fragment was excavated in Ctesiphon, the Sasanian metropolis and administrative capital conquered by Arab Muslim armies in 637. The city was known in Arabic as al-Mada’in, or "the cities", for its extended area. Arab historians indulge in describing al-Mada’in/Ctesiphon’s grand monuments, which obsessed Muslim rulers and may have acquired a symbolic meaning related to its imperial past. This was the case of the Taq-i Kisra, an impressively-sized ivan (a vaulted hall with one side open) partially dismantled to reuse its bricks in caliphal buildings in the new capital Baghdad. Finds like this fragment, which was excavated at a site called West Mound, where the bath of Palace Taq-i Kisra was believed to be located, attest instead to the continued occupation of Ctesiphon’s urban area in the early Islamic period. The fragment belongs to a group of dishes and other vessels made in Iraq in the ninth century. They all feature a molded decoration of interlace designs, which appear to be an evolution of Late Antique ones. The addition of green splashes unrelated to the molded design represents the expression of the aesthetic of the time.
Excavated at West Mound, bath of Palace Taq-i Kisra, in Ctesiphon, Iraq, by the Joint Expedition of the Staatlichen Museen of Berlin and the Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1931–32. Acquired by the Museum in the division of finds and accessioned, 1932