By the term pottery we mean exclusively fired clay vases. Clay modelling (wet argillaceous soil) occupied man at least from the Upper Palaeolithic (large quantities of unfired clay at Theopetra Cave-Thessaly). His efforts over many years to retain the shape of the vessels he had been manufacturing from clay are linked to improved skills in pyrotechnology (firing at the correct temperature) and were finally gratified during the Neolithic Period, initially in the Near East (beginning of the 7th millenium BC) and subsequently in the Aegean area (end of the 7th millenium BC).

During the early phases of the Neolithic, vessels of leather, wood, stone, straw, but also unfired clay were used, for this reason these phases are characterized by the term Aceramic or Pre-Pottery Neolithic. Traces of these unfired vases are scarce.
The first admirable specimens of hand-made pottery date to the Early Neolithic, and were monochrome or burnished, with incised, impressed but also painted decoration. The best examples though of painted decoration originate from the Middle Neolithic Period. A great variety of pottery wares, monochrome (gray, black) and painted (e.g. black colour on a red burnished background) has been observed in particular in Thessaly during the Late Neolithic. These styles characterized various periods of this long period and require, for a more thorough study, their division into longer (Late Neolithic and Late Neolithic ) and shorter phases (e.g. Tsangli-Larisa, Classical Dimini). In pottery production of the Final Neolithic the skills passed down from previous periods.


Pottery art is a complex and time-consuming process that presupposes a knowledge of all its stages: choice of suitable clay, removal of impurities (manually or by sieving) and clay preparation with or without tempering, modelling of the vase, drying, decorating the surface and firing at a temperature up to 850-900o C. It was produced locally, as is evident from the pottery workshop at Sesklo and the ceramic kiln at Dimini in Volos. The manufacture of pottery was used for the preparation (cooking vessels), the consumption (plates-bowls, spoons, cups) and the storage (jars) of food. From the Middle Neolithic certain types of painted pottery are found only in some households (e.g. Sesklo) or constitute exchangeable products.

Pottery is an inseparable aspect of Neolithic man's everyday life. It was fragile, for this reason its use was limited. It could break into small pieces (sherds) which could not be used again, for this reason it exclusively represents the period in which it was made and used. On every excavation site it constitutes the most numerous class of finds and is the most reliable marker for the archaeologist of the economic and social characteristics of a particular culture and the intellectual achievements as well.