The Potter's Wheel

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The potter’s wheel was invented in the 5th millennium BC in the Near East and spread across the Mediterranean into southern and eastern Europe during the Late Bronze and early Iron Ages before also reaching Asia and, finally, the American continent. The potter’s wheel utilized new technological principles, namely rotational kinetic energy (RKE) combined with manual force, to shape vessels. Initially, however, it seems that the wheel was only used to make small shapes, or medium-sized and larger pots in stages, and was not typically used for wheel-throwing but hybrid techniques. When utilized to its full potential, this innovation has the ability to speed up production considerably. It remains a mystery why ethnographic studies consistently show that the potter’s wheel is almost exclusively associated with male potters.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationEncyclopedia of Global Archaeology
Place of PublicationSwitzerland
PublisherSpringer Nature
Number of pages13
ISBN (Print)9781441904669
Publication statusPublished - 2020


  • Potter's wheel
  • pottery
  • technology
  • skill
  • Innovation adoption


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