Potter's Wheel

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potter's wheel

[′päd·ərz ′wēl]
A revolving horizontal disk that turns when a treadle is operated; used to shape clay by hand.

Potter’s Wheel


a tool for shaping pottery and some other ceramic articles, using the inertia of rotation to improve the shape of the products and increase labor productivity. A manual potter’s wheel is turned on a vertical spindle with one hand while the other hand shapes the vessel; a more advanced, foot-powered model was equipped with a flywheel at the bottom that was turned by the feet, freeing both of the craftsman’s hands and making the wheel rotate faster, making it possible to shape the vessel not only piece by piece from spiral coils, as is done on a manual potter’s wheel, but also by pulling it from a solid piece of clay. The invention and widespread use of the potter’s wheel were followed by the training of pottery specialists. The potter’s wheel became known in various countries at different times—in Mesopotamia, Egypt, and India in the fourth and third millennia B.C.;in Iran, Middle Asia, Greece, and China in the second millennium B.C.;in Italy, Spain, France, Transcaucasia, and the northern Black Sea area in the first millennium B.C.;in Britain in about the first century B.C.;in Ancient Rus’, the Volga Region, and Germany in the ninth and tenth centuries; and in Scandinavia in the 12th century. In America, the potter’s wheel was unknown until the arrival of European settlers. In modern pottery production the wheel is usually operated by electric power.


Rybakov, B. A. Remeslo Drevnei Rust. Moscow, 1948.
Bobrinskii, A. A. “Drevnerusskii goncharnyi krug.” Sovetskaia ar-kheologiia, 1962, no. 3.


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