Long-lived pots

People sometimes worry how robust their new pots are. These ancient pots show just how long-lived ceramics can be.

The pot on the right is a reconstructed Jomon jar from Japan, now in the Tokyo national museum. It hasn't survived intact, but is nonetheless remarkeable at 10,000 - 12,000 years old. (Images from Wikipedia)

The figurine makes it look like a young whipper-snapper! Known as the Venus of Dolní Věstonice she is from a site in the Czech Republic and 27,000 - 29,000 years old! I saw her a while back in the BM's stunning exhibition of prehistoric art. She is formed from naturally occurring clay and perhaps fired in bonfire or firepit.

Archaeologists have apparently calculated that she was fired to about 900 degrees C. This is enough to transform clay into a stable ceramic structure, but is a relatively low earthenware type firing that leaves the ceramic porous and brittle.

My pots are initially fired to this same temperature so that I can then more easily apply liquid glaze to the porous pot. They are then re-fired to 1260 degrees C. At this high temperature the ceramic body vitrifies so that is no longer porous and is much stronger.

If low-fired earthenware can survive almost 30,000 years imagine how long a high fired piece might survive. It's a bit mind-blowing to try and think that my work could out-live me by so many millennia!