Museum of Ancient Inventions: Coiled Ceramics

Coiled Ceramics, the Americas, 2500 BCE

The earliest known fired ceramic objects are clay figurines dating to roughly 24,000 BCE found in large numbers in Central Europe. In the Americas, ceramic production can be dated to 2500 BCE. The earliest ceramic pots were handbuilt, as opposed to wheel-thrown on a potter’s wheel. Most American pottery was made by coiling, which may be related to ancient basketmaking methods. In this technique, a coil is rolled and shaped into a base, and the walls are built up from there. The inside and outside walls are then either pinched into ruffled textures with the fingers or scraped flat with a piece of gourd or a smooth stick.


Method of Construction

Constructed by: Bonnie L. Krueger

The earliest coiled pots were made using successive rings of clay on top of one another; later pots were made from a single, very long coil. I tried the latter type of coiling several times and found my efforts to be supremely unrewarding, so the pot shown here illustrates the first technique.

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