Pottery in the Ancient World

Clay is one of the most common substances found on Earth. It can be found in remotes places, on land, lakes and even river basins. It also has a wide range of appearance, ranging from colours like black to red or even cream and white. The availability of clay on earth gave birth to the art of pottery making, as it has a unique property that allows it to bind together when mixed with water.

The art of pottery making can be traced back thousands of years ago to the Palaeolithic period. Archaeological findings of pieces of pottery were traced back to places with earlier civilisation like China, Japan, Egypt and Europe. As one of the oldest human invention, the birth of pottery took its route along the development of agriculture. As the early men became more prominent farmers, the need for certain items to be invented arouse. This was because agricultural produce needed to be carefully kept and preserved.

25,000 BCE was when one of the early sculptures which were made through pottery was recorded in the Czech Republic and this was the “Venus of Dolni Vestonice.” As time went by, the techniques of making pottery continue to evolve. During the Neolithic era, special ovens which were developed at that time for bread making and grain drying was adapted to making pottery. This presented the potters with a chance to subject the pottery to high temperatures in order to make them more durable. This new dimension changed the entire art of pottery making.

Elsewhere, other methods were being adapted to the art of making pottery, civilised countries like Japan and Egypt which were known for making weapons at the time, adopted an open firing technique that was used in smiting weapons to pottery making. This allowed the use of temperature as high as 600 to 900 degree Celsius for firing the pottery. During 18,000 BCE, the Chinese adopted a method of firing potteries similar to Kilns. This method allowed them to use temperatures as high as 1300 to 1400 degree Celsius. This new firing process that was caused the pottery to melt and then bond together to create a “thin translucent white type of ceramics or pottery”.  The Chinese were also the first recorded potters to use a potter’s wheel.”

As centuries passed, the art of making pottery continued to gain popularity. It spread across the globe to continents like Africa, North and South America and today is practised in every part of the world.

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