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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Kilns and Firing Structures


The purpose of firing pottery is to change clay, a plastic material, into ceramic, which is aplastic. Examined here are structures designed to fire pottery or faience or to make glass (although the latter might be better described as furnaces). Firing can take place in an open, bonfire-like environment, which can also be enclosed as a firing structure. Beyond this is the development of the true kiln of which there are two main types: updraft and downdraft. The first of these is by far the most common on archaeological sites throughout the world dating to before the nineteenth century CE. Here the firing technology of ancient Egypt is discussed in particular.

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