Pottery has been an important element in the history of the human race, allowing for the storage and transport of a range of materials as well as acting as an artistic medium for thousands of years. The earliest pottery pieces date back over 25,000 years ago and since this time it has played an important role throughout history.
The creation of the potter’s wheel can be seen as one of the major developments within the history of pottery. Believed to have occurred around 3,000 B.C. the potter’s wheel enabled the creation of uniform pieces and the building of an industry based on the skill sets of potters. Pottery, like many other industries built up in the earliest cities as food production was increasingly carried out on a massive scale and people could devote more time to perfecting their skills rather than producing food. Understandably the creation of the potter’s wheel is often regarded as a revolutionary development in the history of pottery as it allowed an industry to be built up that met the demands of early civilisations.
Pottery also played an important in Ancient Greek and Roman civilisations. Particularly pertinent was the use of geometric designs and images to depict stories and events on pottery items. Many of these items are still visible today in museums and give an indication of how important the role of pottery was in these societies.
This period also saw the development of glazes that meant fired pottery was no longer porous and hence liquids such as wine and olive oil could be transported across longer distances. Whilst traditional thought on the Dark Ages highlights that the pottery industry suffered greatly throughout Europe following the fall of Rome, the finding of pottery fragments in parts of southern England from this period shows that the importance of non-porous pottery in the transportation of exotic foodstuffs remained an important element in the Dark Age world.
One of the biggest developments in the world of pottery came as part of Britain’s industrial revolution. Like many other industries during this period mass production became a driving force in factories throughout England and pottery factories were quick to incorporate the principles of mass production to meet the massive demand for pottery pieces in Victorian Britain and across the empire.
Since this time the drive for more efficient production processes has continued in the world of pottery. This has meant that the pottery industry now has a twofold emphasis, from low cost mass produced items to more bespoke expensive pieces.