EXCERPT Pottery played a vital and important role in the everyday lives of the people of Bible times. It is not surprising therefore, that pottery and pottery making is often mentioned in the Bible. Many times prophets and preachers of the Bible used everyday experiences as object lessons to illustrate spiritual truths. The bowls, jars, and the manufacturing processes which produced them were familiar to everyone. The holy men of God used these to good advantage. This article will briefly consider how pottery was made during Bible times and explore a few of the references to pottery making in the Bible.

Because of its durability, the primary means by which archaeologists determine dates, ethnic affinities, and trade connections is through a study of pottery. Earthenware vessels were used in antiquity for storing, cooking and serving food, as well as for containers for shipping a variety of liquid commodities.

Pottery played a vital and important role in the everyday lives of the people of Bible times. It is not surprising therefore, that pottery and pottery making is often mentioned in the Bible. Many times prophets and preachers of the Bible used everyday experiences as object lessons to illustrate spiritual truths. The bowls, jars, and the manufacturing processes which produced them were familiar to everyone. The holy men of God used these to good advantage. This article will briefly consider how pottery was made during Bible times and explore a few of the references to pottery making in the Bible. In a later article we shall consider the use of pottery in the Bible.

Metal vessels were used in antiquity as well. However, these were expensive and largely limited to the upper classes of society. Thus the quantity of metalware found is relatively small compared to earthenware. Receptacles of wood, basketry and skins were also in use. But these perishable materials generally do not survive, to be discovered by the archaeologist.

Pottery is different. Once fired in a kiln, pottery is virtually indestructible. Unless intentionally ground up, the remains of all the pottery made in antiquity, even though broken and discarded, are still with us today. Thus, when you visit an ancient site, the ground is littered with pottery sherds. One site is even named after its potsherds. While doing survey work in Egypt a few years ago, I visited a site called “Tell el-Ahmar,” “the red ruin.” The name was derived from the abundance of red pottery lying on the surface.

Clay is common in Palestine. Consequently, pottery-making was carried out in numerous locations in the country. Many excavators have found evidence of the pottery industry in the form of remains of potters’ wheels, potters’ tools, unfired vessels, prepared clay, kilns, etc. Taken together, these data indicate that the pottery industry in ancient Palestine was quite sophisticated with a potters’ wheel and permanent kilns being used. This industry is in contrast to more primitive cultures where hand forming and open firing in bonfires were the mode of production. Incidently, studies of pottery-making in contemporary cultures have revealed that when vessels are formed by hand and fired in open bonfires, production is carried out by women. Whereas, when the potter’s wheel and permanent kiln are used, production is in the hands of men. The word for “potter” in the Old Testament, yatsar, “the one who forms,” is masculine gender. We can be certain that the vast majority of potters in Bible times were men….

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