POTTERY. This term—supposed to be derived from poterion, the drinking-cup of the Greeks, and transmitted by the French word poterie—is applied to all objects of baked clay. The invention of pottery dates from the most remote period, and its appli cation is almost universal—objects of pottery being in use among races even semi-barba rous. The art of molding or fashioning vessels of moist clay, and subsequently drying them in the sun, is so obvious, that it is not above the intelligence of the rudest savage. Hence, at the most remote antiquity, the Egyptians, to whom precedence must be assigned in this art, made bricks of unbaked or sun-dried clay, cemented with straw, which were quite sufficient for the purposes of construction in a country where little or no rain falls. These bricks, in shape resembling those in use at the present day, but of larger dimen sions, were impressed, at the earliest period, with the marks of the brick-maker, and later, with the names and titles of the kings for whose construction they were made. The oppression of the 'Hebrews chiefly consisted in compelling them to work in the brick fields—a task imposed on captives taken in war and reduced to slavery; and the for tresses of Pithoin and Rameses, on the Egyptian frontiers, were made of bricks by the Hebrews. Kiln-dried bricks, in fact, did not come into use in Egypt till the Roman dominion, although some exceptional objects of the class of bricks have been found, such as a kind of conical plug, stamped on the base with the names of the tenants of the tombs. A few other objects were made in unbaked clay; but vases of baked earthenware were in use at the, earliest period of Egyptian civilization, and are contemporary with the pyramids themselves. The Egyptians made a red ware, a pale-red or yellow ware, and a lustrous or polished red wa•e—the two first being used for vases destined for culinary and other purposes, the last for vases of more relined use, such as holding perfumes, wine, honey, and other delicacies. But the most remarkable Egyptian pottery was the so-called porcelain, made of a fine sand or frit loosely fused together, and covered with a thick sili Mous glaze of a blue, green, white, purple, or yellow color. This celebrated ware, the por of the old world,somethnes exhibits the most beautiful tints of blue, a color which was produced by an oxide of copper, and which is still unrivaled. Objects were made of this material for the decoration of the dead and for the toilet. They were exported from Egypt to the neighboring countries, and are found alike in the tombs of tire Greek isles, the sepul chers of Etruria, and the graves of Greece. Most of the figures of deities, the sepulchral
ones deposited with the dead, a few elegant vases, portions of inlaying, objects of the toilet, and beads and other decorations, are made of this porcelain. Still finer work of this kind was produced by carving scarabmi and other small objects in steatite, and cov ering them with a blue glaze, so as to combine brilliancy of color with delicacy of exe cution. The Egyptians had at the earliest period the simpler manipulations and tools of pottery—the potter's lath or wheel, molds for stamping objects, and various other tools. On the decadence of the country under the Greeks and ROMa 11S, the pottery became assimilated to the Greek and Roman.
in the contemporary empires of Assyria and Babylon pottery was also in use at an early period. Sun-dried and kiln-dried bricks were made in the reigns of Erukil and other monarchs of the oldest Babylonian dynasties, about i':000 mc. Platforms for ele vating the larger edifices were made of them; and the bricks, like the Egyptian, were stamped with the names and titles of the monarch, to which was added the locality for which they were destined. Glazed bricks of various colors, occasionally enriched with scenes and ornamental designs, were introduced into constructions; and Semiramis is said to have adorned with them the walls of Babylon. The Assyrians and Babylonians employed this material for historical and legal purposes, making cylinders, hexagonal prisms, and purse-shaped objects of it, on which were impressed extensive writings. One of these remarkable objects contains the account of the campaign of Sennacherib against Jndea and the tributes of Hezekiah. The Assyrian and Babylonian pottery resembles, but is not entirely the same as the Egyptian, being of a pale red ware, of thinner sub stance, finer paste, and more refined shape. At a later period, figures of deities were modeled in terra-cotta. The glazed ware of Babylon and Assyria is coarser than the finest Egyptian, and is the earliest example of the employment of materials for coloring like those now in use; tire glaze, however, is silicious. The objects most remarkable for size are the large coffins found at Warka, supposed by some to be the Ur of the Chal dees, with oval covers, and ornaments of the Sassanian period. The potteries of Meso potamia continued to flourish under the Parthiau and SIISSfl 'Ilan monarchs till the conquest of Asia by the Mohammedans.