Brill’s New Pauly

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Potter's wheel
(236 words)

[German version]

The PW was used in three ways when producing pottery: at high speeds as a PW, at low speeds as a PW for the dolium and pithos and, probably originally, for hand shaping in an almost stationary condition. At a low speed, the PW served as an auxiliary tool in a method of production probably still largely based on manual shaping. At high speeds, rotating at 50-150 rpm, the PW brought centrifugal forces to bear, accelerating the turning process over longer periods.

There were three simple forms of the PW in antiquity. The earliest comes from Ur (Uruk period, from c. 3500 BC): a …

Cite this page
Docter, Roald Fritjof (Amsterdam), “Potter's wheel”, in: Brill’s New Pauly, Antiquity volumes edited by: Hubert Cancik and , Helmuth Schneider, English Edition by: Christine F. Salazar, Classical Tradition volumes edited by: Manfred Landfester, English Edition by: Francis G. Gentry. Consulted online on 29 June 2022 <>
First published online: 2006
First print edition: 9789004122598, 20110510

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