Pottery Early History




Ancient Pottery


When Did It All Begin

It is believed that the earliest pottery wares were hand-built and fired in bonfires. Firing times were short but the peak-temperatures achieved in the fire could be high, perhaps in the region of 900 °C, and were reached very quickly. Clays tempered with sand, grit, crushed shell or crushed pottery were often used to make bonfire-fired ceramics because they provided an open-body texture that allows water and other volatile components of the clay to escape freely. The coarser particles in the clay also acted to restrain shrinkage within the bodies of the wares during cooling which was carried out slowly to reduce the risk of thermal stress and cracking. In the main, early bonfire-fired wares were made with rounded bottoms to avoid sharp angles that might be susceptible to cracking. The earliest intentionally-constructed kilns were pit-kilns or trench-kilns–holes dug in the ground and covered with fuel. Holes in the ground provided insulation and resulted in better control over firing.
The earliest-known ceramic objects are Gravettian figurines such as those discovered at Dolni Vestonice in the modern-day Czech Republic. The Venus of Dolní Věstonice (Věstonická Venuše in Czech) is a Venus figurine, a statuette of a nude female figure dated to 29,000–25,000 BCE. The earliest pottery vessels found include those excavated from the Yuchanyan Cave in southern China, dated from 16,000 BCE, and those found in the Amur River basin in the Russian Far East, dated from 14,000 BCE.
Other earlier pottery vessels include those made by the Incipient Jōmon people of Japan from around 10,500 BCE have also been found.The term “Jōmon” means “cord-marked” in Japanese. This refers to the markings made on the vessels and figures using sticks with cords during their production. It appears that pottery was independently developed in North Africa during the 10,000 BCE and in South America during the 10,000 BCE In several cultures, the earliest vessels were made either by hand-shaping or by rolling the clay into a thin round cord which was then coiled round on itself to form the vessel. The earliest history of pottery production in the Near East can be divided into four periods, namely: the Hassuna period (5,000-4,500 BCE), the Halaf period (4,500-4,000 BCE), the Ubaid period (4,000-3,000 BCE), and the Uruk period (3,500-2,000 BCE).
The invention of the potter’s wheel in Mesopotamia sometime between 6,000 and 4,000 BCE (Ubaid period) revolutionized pottery production. Specialized potters were then able to meet the expanding needs of the world’s first cities. Pottery was in use in ancient India, including areas now forming Pakistan and northwest India, during the Mehrgarh Period II (5,500-4,800 BCE) and Merhgarh Period III (4,800-3,500 BCE), known as the ceramic Neolithic and chalcolithic. Pottery, including items known as the ed-Dur vessels, originated in regions of the Indus Valley and have been found in a number of sites in the Indus Valley Civilization.
In the Mediterranean, during the Greek Dark Ages (1,100–800 BCE), amphoras and other pottery were decorated with geometric designs such as squares, circles and lines. The period between 1,500-300 BCE in ancient Korea is known as the Mumun Pottery Period.[33] In the Chalcolithic period in Mesopotamia, Halafian pottery achieved a level of technical competence and sophistication, not seen until the later developments of Greek pottery with Corinthian and Attic ware.[citation needed] The distinctive Red Samian ware of the Early Roman Empire was copied by regional potters throughout the Empire.


 This is also an interesting Video: