potter's wheel

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A flat‐topped horizontal turntable that can be rotated to assist a potter in shaping a ceramic vessel. Slow‐turning wheels or tournettes were used from the 5th or 6th millennia bc in the Near East to help true up hand‐made vessels. From the early 4th millennium bc, however, fast wheels began to be introduced. Using a fast wheel a potter could centre a piece of clay while the wheel was spinning and then fashion the desired form of the vessel. The technique is still used today. Fast wheels may be powered by simply kicking a stone or wooden fly‐wheel attached to the bottom of a spindle connected to the wheel‐head (so‐called kick‐wheel) by using a treadle, or in more recent times by attaching an independent power source. Fast wheels began to be used in Minoan Crete about 2500 bc, and were used in Britain by about 100 bc. Potter's wheels were not used in the Americas until after European colonization.

Subjects: Archaeology.

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