Archeologists have uncovered human-made ceramics that date back to at least 24,000 BC. These ceramics were found in Czechoslovakia and were in the form of animal and human figurines, slabs, and balls. These ceramics were made of animal fat and bone mixed with bone ash and a fine claylike material. After forming, the ceramics were fired at temperatures between 500-800°C in domed and horseshoe shaped kilns partially dug into the ground with loess walls. While it is not clear what these ceramics were used for, it is not thought to have been a utilitarian one. The first use of functional pottery vessels is thought to be in 9,000 BC. These vessels were most likely used to hold and store grain and other foods.
It is thought that ancient glass manufacture is closely related to pottery making, which flourished in Upper Egypt about 8,000 BC. While firing pottery, the presence of calcium oxide (CaO) containing sand combined with soda and the overheating of the pottery kiln may have resulted in a colored glaze on the ceramic pot. Experts believe that it was not until 1,500 BC that glass was produced independently of ceramics and fashioned into separate items.
Since these ancient times, the technology and applications of ceramics (including glass) has steadily increased. We often take for granted the major role that ceramics have played in the progress of humankind. Below are just a few examples of how important ceramics are to society.