File:Vestonicka venuse edit.jpg
Venus of Dolní Věstonice
File:Museum of Anatolian Civilizations018.jpg
Relatively plain earthenware for everyday use: pottery found at Çatal Höyük - sixth millennium BC
File:Altamura Painter - Red-Figure Calyx Krater - Walters 48262 - Side A.jpg
Obviously an artistic work as well as practical: Greek red-figure vase in the krater shape, between 470 and 460 BC, by the Altamura Painter

Pottery is the ceramic material which makes up potteryware.[1] Major types include earthenware, stoneware and porcelain. The place where such wares are made is also called a pottery (plural "potteries"). Pottery also refers to the art or craft of a potter or the making of pottery.[2][3] A dictionary definition is simply clay fired in a kiln.[4]

Pottery objects are made from damp clay mixed with other materials. They are then fired in a special oven called a kiln at high temperatures. Firing makes the clay hard. The potter may then apply a glaze to the surface before firing the object again. The fired glaze makes the surface of the pottery shiny, decorative and water-tight.

Some potters make objects which are not useful and are really artistic objects or sculpture. Bare pottery objects without a glaze are called bisque or just earthenware. The finest pottery objects, made of porcelain or bone china are quite strong, yet are translucent.

History of pottery

Pottery originated before the Neolithic period. The earliest example we have is from eastern Europe, dating to 25,000 years ago or earlier. It is a female figurine known as the Venus of Dolní Věstonice, from a palaeolithic site in Moravia, Czech Republic. It may have been made as part of a fertility ritual. There are some similar figures from other nearby sites.[5]

Since the invention of agriculture, and the building of cities, containers for food and drink have been found at almost all archaeological sites.


  1. Dinsdale, Allen 1986. Pottery science: materials, process and products. Ellis Horwood Ltd.
  2. "Merriam-Webster.com". Merriam-Webster.com. 2010-08-13. Retrieved 2010-09-04.
  3. Rado, Paul 1988. An introduction to the technology of pottery. 2nd ed, Institute Of Ceramics & Pergamon Press.
  4. Pottery, meaning 3, mass noun, Oxford English Dictionary, Oxford University Press, 2015.
  5. Vandiver, Pamela B. et al 1989. The origins of ceramic technology at Dolni Věstonice, Czechoslovakia. Science 246, #4933, 1002-1008.