Defining Ceramics

  • Carla M. Sinopoli


Ceramics, produced by the transformation of clay through heat into hard and durable products, can take many forms and be characterized in many ways. A geologist might view ceramics in terms of the mineralogical and chemical constituents of their basic raw materials—clays and inclusions. Chemists view ceramics in terms of the chemical composition of their raw materials, the nature of the ionic bonds between chemical elements, and the chemical transformations that result from the application of heat, whereas potters may define ceramics on the basis of their form and the techniques involved in their manufacture. Archaeologists studying particular aspects of prehistoric ceramics use each of these and other characterizations of ceramics: to examine raw materials and their sources, manufacturing techniques, firing processes, and the uses of ceramics in specific prehistoric contexts. In this chapter, I will examine some of the relevant definitions and characteristics of ceramics and their constituent materials, and the techniques involved in ceramic manufacture.


Firing Technology Ceramic Vessel Ceramic Manufacture Cooking Vessel Decorative Technique 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1991

Authors and Affiliations

  • Carla M. Sinopoli
    • 1
  1. 1.University of Wisconsin-MilwaukeeMilwaukeeUSA

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