Clay in Ancient Egypt

No one is certain how early the Egyptians began using clay.They had become fairly adept at using clay by around 5000 B.C., which was the Predynastic Period.The Egyptian civilization was located along the Nile River, and the annual flooding of the Nile made large amounts of clay readily accessible.There is clear evidence suggesting that the Egyptians were thefirst civilization to use the potter's wheel, which they were doing around 2700 B.C.This quickly became a widely-used technique, and by 2400 B.C., statues of potters working at wheels were being used in funerary rites.Even in the Predynastic Period, clay was considered a "primeval material which contained essential life-bearing forces" (Bianchi 35).
A style developed during this period in which red paint was used on buff-colored earthenware.The painting on these often depicted Nile sailing boats complete with cabins and flags, various animals and plants, and geometric forms.These forms were painted randomly around the vessel, because the craftsmen were focused on "visual clarity and not in creating the kind of illusions of reality which have preoccupied Western artists from the time of the Renaissance" (Bianchi 38).
Although its use began in the Middle Kingdom, the Third Intermediate Period, between 1080 and 656 B.C., was the height of the use of faience, or Egyptian paste, which was a glazed, ceramic material similar to porcelain.It was made by adding soluble sodium salts to the clay body, a process which may originally have occurred accidentally, when the wind blew other materials into clay beds.As the object dried, the glaze-forming materials would be deposited on its surface, forming white crystals.When the object was then fired, its surface would be covered in a thin glaze from the crystals.Colorings were often added to faience, most often copper oxide to make a turquoise blue, or more rarely, cobalt oxide to make a dark…