Pottery is a form of ceramic technology, where wet clays are shaped and dried, then fired to harden them and make them waterproof. Unglazed pottery that is fired at temperatures in the 800 to 1200 °C range, which does not vitrify in the kiln but remains slightly porous is often called earthenware or terra cotta. Clay formulated to be fired at higher temperatures, which is partially vitrified is called "stoneware". Fine earthenware with a white tin glaze is known as faience.
The terms "pottery," "earthenware" and "stoneware" are generally used only for relatively easily constructed utensils such as pots, cups, bowls, etc., and for some decorative items. Similar types of ware made from porcelain clays are simply referred to as "porcelain." Complex extremely high-fired ceramics, where the glaze and body fuse completely, are generally referred to as "products of ceramic technology." Ceramic technology is used for items such as electronic parts and Space Shuttle tiles. Pottery is both an ancient and modern technology, in that it uses materials and techniques that are thousands of years old but also takes advantage of more modern innovations in the fields of chemistry and electronics.
Broken pottery in archaeological sites, called potsherds, help identify the resident culture and date the stratum, by the formation style and decoration. The relative chronologies based on pottery are essential for dating the remains of non-literate cultures and help in the dating of some historic cultures as well.
Types of Pottery
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