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What can broken pieces of pottery tell an archaeologist? Illustration

Archaeology for Kids
Pottery and China

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A long time ago, many different civilizations at many different times and in many different places invented pottery. They needed something to hold and store food and water. They discovered that clay could be made into shapes and then dried in the sun. People learned that clay was stronger if it was baked in a fire. In time, people learned how to make glazes to waterproof their pottery. China was first made by the ancient Chinese, which is now it got its name. China is a special type of pottery that allows some light to show through it.

The earliest pottery was made by hand. At first, people only wanted their pottery to be useful. But as time went on, pottery began to be decorated. Some civilizations invented a potters wheel, which they used to make pottery into interesting shapes. Some painted pottery. Others created colored glazes to decorate it. Others used tools to mark designs into the wet clay. Many vases and pieces of pottery were decorated with scenes of daily life, of war and triumph, of gods and goddesses.

Pieces of pottery have been found in just about all the ruins of ancient homes and villages and towns, all over the world. Most of the pottery is broken, but it can still tell archaeologists a great deal about the people who made it and used it. That's why the discovery of pieces of pottery at a "dig" are so exciting to archaeologists.

Why study pottery?

Powerpoint: Ancient China – Including Neolithic Pottery

Powerpoint: Chinese Ceramics

What does an archaeologist do?

Archaeology Q&A Quiz Interactive