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Mechanical and Technical Processes. Materials 131
also often remarkable (see Figs. I and 2, facing pp. 122-3). The
later predynastic ware shows an immense variety of forms, the
earlier often having a polished surface with black tops, the
slip being a red iron compound completely polished, with
designs in white. Subsequently pots of a light ware make their
appearance carrying designs of ships, houses, men, and so on,
also some with a polished or rough red surface (see Fig. 2, a-d>
facing p. 123). At this period also small handles for suspension
are found. At this time, and for an indeterminate period after,
the pots were baked on the ground in a mixed heap of pots
and fuel, perhaps covered with dung to conserve the heat.
The kiln had been well established by the Fifth Dynasty, when
one is shown in a tomb at Saqqara. As to the wheel, the only
technical process, apart from the true kiln, which seems to have
developed after the predynastic period, there is a considerable
divergence of opinion as to the earliest date of its use, some
authorities asserting that it was known in the First Dynasty,
others that it was a later evolution. Wheel-marks' on pottery
are apt to be misleading; for a most elementary advance in
pottery-making would be to put the pot on a table which could
be made to revolve as the pot was gradually being built up
by hand, or to smooth it off when shaped; this would leave
concentric rings on the pot. The wheels depicted in a Fifth-
Dynasty tomb at Beni Hasan show that they were turned by
hand. To shape a pot by the swiftly moving wheel, modern
fashion, requires both hands free; the wheel has to be turned
by foot, as Egyptian potters do to-day, or by an assistant.
Until further evidence is available we must leave the date of the
introduction of the true 'potter's wheel' with its quite special
technique as an open question.
Much has been written by excavators and others, who are not
themselves acquainted with pottery technique, on the subject
of slips, polishes, washes, and other processes when attempting
to describe the surface of a pot, While the predynastic pots had