The fragment shown here is among the oldest examples of ceramic vessels known in the Near East. It is decorated with red stripes on a white background.
The earliest pieces of ceramic discovered in Syria so far date to about 6500 BC. The word “ceramic” comes from the Greek keramos, which means “burned material” or “baked earth. ” Ceramic is clay that has been baked in a hearth or preferably an oven in which temperatures of 900°C to 1200°C can be reached. Clay that is hardened in this way remains porous, however, since such temperatures are not high enough to vitrify it. Ceramic is considered the first synthetic material to be made by humans since it is the result of mixing clay, water, air (during drying) and fire (during baking) to obtain a new material that is solid and durable. Ceramic is a godsend for archaeologists because it is found in large quantities in archaeological excavations and can be used to classify sites. One of these sherds is part of the rim of a cooking pot that was entirely covered with a red “slip,” that is, a coating of diluted clay.
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