Pottery Timeline
Chronology of Ceramic Art Around the World.

Pottery Timeline (c.26,000 BCE - 1900)

Ancient pottery, arguably the world's most commonly practiced form of ancient art, first appeared during the Upper Paleolithic in the Moravian basin of Central Europe. Unlike other types of plastic art, pottery was invented then lost, then reinvented then lost again, before finally becoming established around the world during the Neolithic period (c.8000-2000 BCE). Only in China was ceramic art practiced continuously from its first known appearance in 18,000 BCE.

Date Event

26,000 BCE























The Venus of Dolni Vestonice, the world's oldest clay-fired sculpture. Made in the Czech Republic, it is one of the Venus figurines from the era of Gravettian art. The Dolni Vestonice site in the Moravian Basin is also the location of the first known pottery kiln. For more details, see: Prehistoric Art Timeline (from 2.5 million BCE). For the earliest art, please see our list of the Oldest Stone Age Art during prehistory.
European era of Solutrean art (ends 15,000).
The first Chinese pottery - Xianrendong Cave pottery - from Jiangxi. Oldest Asian art.
Yuchanyan Cave pottery is created in the Yangzi River Basin. See: Chinese Art Timeline.
Vela Spila pottery, Vela Luka, Korcula Island, Croatia.
European era of Magdalenian art (ends 10,000).
Earliest known examples of Japanese Jomon pottery - discovered at Odaiyamamoto I site, Aomori Prefecture, Japan - usher in the lengthy Jomon Period of Japanese art, named after the rope (jo) patterns (mon) on its earthenware pots.
Incipient Jomon Japanese pottery: mostly deep cooking containers with pointed bottoms, and cord marks.
Pottery-making spreads to the Russian Far East - see Amur River Basin Pottery.
Pots from Gasya site, Amur River basin, Russia.
Fukui Cave ceramics, Japan (Incipient Jomon).
Gromatukha pots on the Zeya River, Amur region.
Goncharka ceramics, Amur River region.
Clay-fired pots found in the Trans-Baikal province in southern Siberia, Russia: at Ust-Kyakhta (dating to 11,900 BCE), Ust-Karenga (11,800 BCE) and Studenoye 11,250 BCE.
Era of Paleolithic art gives way to Mesolithic art.
Pottery-making begins in sub-Saharan Africa, namely at Ounjougou, in Central Mali.
Nanzhuangtou Chinese Culture based in southern Hebei. See: Chinese Neolithic Art.
Era of Neolithic art begins in many countries. Oldest items of Iranian pottery made. See Ancient Persian Art (from 3500 BCE). Beginning of Initial Jomon pottery (ends 5000 BCE): vessels increase in size and become more decorated, reflecting a more settled style of life. Introduction of undulating rims and flat bottoms.
Earliest known examples of Korean pottery - from the Jelmun period. See: Korean Art.
Pengtoushan Chinese Neolithic Culture, Northwest Hunan, noted for cord-marked pottery.
Pottery-making begins in the Middle East.
Hassuna pottery emerges in central Mesopotamia, characterized by a cream slip with reddish paint and linear designs.
Peiligang Chinese Neolithic Culture in Henan, noted for thick red-coloured pots, with ear-shaped handles, round bottoms and thick necks.
Halaf pottery introduced colours patterned with geometric and animal motifs in orange, red, brown and black. Late Halaf-style ceramics were exceptional for their high quality polychrome painting. Houli Chinese Neolithic Culture, centred on Shandong.
Pottery-making begins in the Greek region of Thessaly. See also: Greek Art.
Xinglongwa Chinese Neolithic Culture in Inner Mongolia, noted for its low-temperature cylindrical ceramic ware.
By this date pottery was being produced throughout the Russian Far East, notably by the Gromatukha and Novopetrovsk cultures. Also "The Enthroned Goddess" figurine from Catalhuyuk, Anatolia (Turkey).
Cishan Chinese Neolithic Culture in southern Hebei. Cishan potters produced a more diverse range of pots including basins, serving stands, and ornate drinking cups.
Dadiwan Chinese Neolithic Culture in Gansu and Shaanxi developed the Cishan style of pottery. See also: Chinese Art.
Pottery-making begins in the Americas.
Oldest faience workshop in Egypt established at Abydos. Also, Pedra Pintada Cave pots, near Santarem, Brazil. Also pottery-making begins in the Indian sub-continent. Mehrgarh Period II ceramic culture (5500-4800 BCE) is centred on present-day northwest India and Pakistan. It was followed by Merhgarh Period III (4800-3500).
Chinese Neolithic Xinle Culture around the lower Liao River on the Liaodong.
Cardium Pottery Culture spreads from Greece westwards into the Mediterranean and Adriatic, into the Balkans, Italy, the French Rhone Valley, and Eastern Spain. Also Chinese Neolithic Zhaobaogou Culture in Inner Mongolia and Hebei is noted for engraved pots with geometric/zoomorphic designs.
Ubaid pottery was the first pottery to dominate Mesopotamia. In general, Ubaid ceramic ware is decorated in a more subdued way, with very little of the Halaf glossiness and colour. Instead it is renowned for a more restrained style of buff/green coloured ware decorated with chevrons, zigzags, parallel lines and other abstract patterns.
Chinese Neolithic Beixin Culture centred on Shandong.
Pots made at Takarkori rock shelter in the Acacus mountains of southern Libya.
Hamangia ceramic sculpture in Romania produces the "Thinker of Cernavoda".
Chinese Neolithic Daxi Culture from the Middle Yangtze River region, known for its red pottery, eggshell-thin drinking cups and orange/black decorations.
Chinese Neolithic Yangshao Culture based along the Yellow River, Henan, is noted for its white, red, and black vessels, ornamented with bird, fish, deer, and plant motifs. Also renowned for its funerary storage jars decorated with volutes and sawtooth patternwork, applied with sweeping brush strokes of black and red colour pigment. For details of the various colour pigments used by Neolithic ceramicists, see: Prehistoric Colour Palette.
Early Jomon Japanese pottery: noted for cord-marked earthenware cooking & storage vessels.
Chinese Neolithic Hemudu Culture in Yuyao, Zhejiang produced thick and porous pots, typically coloured black with charcoal and decorated with curvilinear and geometric designs.
Start of Eastern Linear Pottery Culture which spreads into Bulgaria, Hungary, Ukraine.
Chinese Hongshan Culture (4700-2900) develops in Inner Mongolia and northeastern China. Known for its clay figurines of obese, pregnant women.
Tourneys/tournettes (primitive types of potter's wheels) first used in the Middle East.
Western Linear Pottery Culture spreads into Poland, Czech Republic, Germany, and France. Also San Jacinto culture ceramic vessels made in Colombia.
Dawenkou Chinese Neolithic Culture centred on Shandong, Henan, and Jiangsu, is illustrated by long-stemmed goblets.




















25 CE














Uruk pottery, named after the Sumerian city of Uruk, is associated with urban civilization in Mesopotamia, and later Sumeria. During this time, ceramic pottery became the most important medium of Mesopotomian art, as potter's wheels became faster turning, and craftsmen achieved tighter control of the firing process. Kiln designs also advanced.
First mass-produced bowls made at Uruk.
Alaka culture pottery made in Guyana.
"Painted Pottery Culture" in China (ends 2000 BCE). At the same time, Neolithic cultures along the middle and lower reaches of the Yangtze River valley start to produce eggshell-thin clay-fired goblets and bowls decorated in black and orange designs.
Puerto Hormiga pots made in in Colombia.
Indus Valley Civilization which grew up along the Indus and Ghaggar-Hakra rivers in India (also called the Harappan Civilization after the type site Harappa, in the Punjab), gave birth to five phases of pottery production. In 1300 BCE it was succeeded by the Iron Age Indo-Gangetic traditions of "northern black polished ware" and "painted grey ware".
Pit-Comb Ware culture in Korea; beginning of the Middle Jeulmun pottery culture.
Valdivia ceramic culture begins in Ecuador.
Earliest stone potter's wheel in the city of Ur.
Chinese ceramicists achieve a standard of craftsmanship which is quite exceptional. Designs include sawtooth lines, gourd-shaped panels, radial spirals, and zoomorphic figures. The important Longshan Culture (3000-2000 BCE) - based around the central and lower Yellow River region - is characterized by eggshell-thin black pottery with added spouts, legs, and handles. Many of its ceramic containers were created specifically for ceremonial rites linked with the worship of ancestral spirits.
Egyptian potters develop the first turntable shaft for potter's wheel. See: Egyptian art.
Aegean art in the Peloponnese and eastern Mediterranean takes over from Thessaly as the leading pottery centre. In the Cyclades, Sesklo ware is developed, characterized by abstract decoration with spirals and maritime motifs.
Middle Jomon Japanese pottery: Best known for ornate ceramic "dogu" figurines & vessels.
Pandanche ceramic pots made in Peru.
By about the end of the third millennium pottery-making is introduced into Central America, reaching Panama by 2140 BCE, Costa Rica by 1890 BCE, southern Mexico by 1805 BCE, and Guatemala by 1680 BCE.
Pottery wheel used in Minoan art on Crete. Coincides with the flowering of Minoan pottery (noted for its bold vivid designs and all-over decoration) during the Protopalatial period (2000-1800 BCE), when the great palaces of Knossos and Phaistos were built. An example is Kamares ware, from Phaistos. Minoan pottery continued to dominate during Crete's Neopalatial period (c.1650-1425 BCE), the apogee of civilization on Crete.
Beginning of Shang Dynasty Art (1700-1050 BCE), noted for ceramics in Royal Tombs.
Sphinxes are depicted in Mycenean art, especially in pottery and ivory carving.
Korean Mumun pottery period begins.
Late Jomon Japanese pottery: noted for high quality ceremonial vessels.
Greek pottery during the Dark Ages was centred in Athens and consisted largely of recycled Mycenean pottery, such as Submycenean ware.
Final Jomon Japanese pottery: plain style of pottery influenced by Korean art and Mumun pottery.
Nok culture of Nigeria develops terracotta sculpture and pottery. Also produced by the Igbo culture of eastern Nigeria. For more, see: African art.
Terracotta art becomes a feature of Pre-Columbian art (Olmec culture 1000-500).
Start of Classical Antiquity: the first distinctive Greek pottery emerges, known as the Proto-geometric style.
The Geometric style of Greek pottery emerges. Early Geometric runs 900-850 BCE; Middle Geometric 850-770; Late Geometric 770-725.
Stylized animal and human figures appear on Greek vases.
The Oriental style of Greek pottery emerges.
Etruscans start producing a black, glossy ware called "bucchero". See: Etruscan Art.
Black-Figure style of Greek pottery. For the colour pigments used in vase painting by Greek artists, see also: Classical Colour Palette.
Red-Figure style of Greek pottery.
Development of White Ground Technique, the last important style of Greek pottery. For the decoration of these lekythoi, see: Greek Painting of the Classical Period.
Greek ceramic art declines during the Classical Period.
Greek ceramics during the Hellenistic Period include two noteworthy styles: Megarian hemispherical bowls; and West-Slope pottery.
Greek artists begin making Tanagra Figurines (mold-cast terracotta figurines, coated with white slip) in Boeotia, central Greece.
Japanese Yayoi culture begins (ends 300 AD), famous for its elegant, highly polished painted pottery.
Creation of Chinese Terracotta Army, the greatest ever collection of life-size terracotta statues. The apogee of Qin Dynasty Art (221-206 BCE).
China establishes first colonies in northern Korea, including Nangnang, near Pyongyang, which develops into a major centre of Chinese ceramic ware.

For the evolution of arts & crafts, see: History of Art Timeline (2,500,000 BCE - Present)

The first examples of celadon pottery are discovered during tomb excavations in Zhejiang, dating back to the Eastern Han Dynasty. But other experts consider that celadon proper was not produced until the start of the Northern Song Dynasty (960–1127).
Primitive examples of Chinese porcelain made at Zhejiang during late Han Dynasty.
Period of Tang Dynasty art begins (ends 906). Famous for producing Chinese porcelain (notably Sancai) and for intricate goldsmithing.
Period of Song Dynasty art begins (ends 1279). Song porcelain is renowned for its Jian Tea Wares (called tenmoku wares in Japan) made in Jianyang, Fujian. The Song Dynasty is also known for its Longquan Celadon, created in the southern province of Zhejiang. Northern Song culture (960-1127) is best known for its Ding ware - the first type of porcelain to be officially adopted by the Emperor - as well as its undecorated Ru ware, and Jun ware.
Beginning of Southern Song culture (1127-1279), known for its Guan ware and for its Qingbai porcelains, made at Jingdezhen and other locations in southern China.
Fonthill Vase is first piece of Chinese porcelain to arrive in Europe.
Period of Ming Dynasty art begins (ends 1644). World famous for its blue-and-white Ming ware (also known as kraak porcelain), made in Jingdezhen. Advances were also made in cobalt blue underglazes and enamelling. Ming designs were also influenced by Islamic art (notably metalwork). Blanc de Chine porcelains were first made under the Mings in Fujian province.
Beginning of Joseon Dynasty in Korea. Neo-Confucianism replaces Buddhism as the official Korean ideology. This stimulates the production of white porcelain, which is believed to embody Neo-Confucian ideals of purity.
1400-1490 During the Early Italian Renaissance, the sculptors Luca della Robbia (1400-1482) and Andrea Della Robbia (1435-1525) use glazed terracotta sculpture for church altarpieces. See also the pulpit reliefs for Santa Croce in Florence (1481), by Benedetto da Maiano. Terracotta is also used in Renaissance portrait art: see, for instance, the Bust of Cardinal Giovanni de' Medici (later Pope Leo X) (c.1512, Victoria and Albert Museum) by Antonio de' Benintendi. For more, see: Renaissance Art.
Korean porcelain is created for the rich, buncheong ware for the less wealthy. Later Buncheong ceramic ware was discontinued in Korea, but retained in Japan where it became a popular feature of the tea ceremony.
First Portuguese explorers and traders arrive in China. Four years later they return with samples of kaolin clay, which they correctly understand is an essential ingredient in porcelain production. Unfortunately, European ceramicists fail to replicate Chinese wares.
The Dutch East India Company exports 6 million pieces of Chinese porcelain to Europe.
Ehrenfried Walther von Tschirnhaus (1651-1708) at Meissen at last manages to create the hard, white, translucent Chinese-style of porcelain.
The French Jesuit Francois Xavier d'Entrecolles (1664-1741) reveals Chinese porcelain-making secrets.
Architects in England and America start to use unglazed terracotta in order to decorate the exterior surfaces of buildings. (Facade of the Natural History Museum; Victoria and Albert Museum; and the Royal Albert Hall - all in London. See: Architecture History.
Artisan pottery is promoted by the Arts & Crafts Movement in both Europe and America, for its traditional craftsmanship and its qualities as a decorative art.
Chicago school architects Daniel Hudson Burnham (1846-1912) and John Root (1850-91) use terracotta in the curtain walls of the Reliance Building (1895). Their colleague William Le Baron Jenney pioneers the use of terracotta in skyscrapers to reduce the risk of fire.


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