The earliest method for making clay pots was called "hand building," wherein a small bit of clay was pinched or pressed into a vessel. The production of clay pots began about ten thousand years ago, most likely in the Middle East during the Neolithic Revolution.
The oldest known pottery fragments have been found in Catal Huyuk in Turkey, dating from about 6500 B.C. Since the first piece of clay fell into a fire and was transformed into a solid material, it has been fashioned into pots for decoration, rituals and everyday dishware.
Early clay pots were usually made to be thrown away after only one use. These early pots were made using a lump of clay that was molded by the single imprint of a human fist.
The Potter's Wheel
Scholars cannot agree on when the potter’s wheel was first used; dates suggested vary from between 8000 B.C. to 1400 B.C. However, there are indications that Mesopotamia may have been the place of origin, perhaps around 5000 B.C. The potter’s wheel allowed the potter to easily create even shapes in less time.
From the 18th to the mid-20th century, giant coal kilns were used to fire clay. Today, cleaner fuels like wood, propane or natural gas and electricity are used instead of coal.
Amy Michaeli began working as a newspaper feature writer and freelance writer in 2006. Most recently, Michaeli has written web content for Remilon LLC's educational resources division as well as eHow. Michaeli holds dual Bachelor of Sciences in journalism and social work from Eastern Michigan University located in Ypsilanti, Mich.