We invite you to a journey through Iberian pottery (those made throughout the peninsula) and its history.
You will learn which peoples worked the clay in the peninsula, and what types of pieces they made and how. In addition, there will be some surprising facts.
PERIODS OF IBERIAN POTTERY
From the Stone Age to the Iberian pottery, we are going to tell you about its different stages.
Researchers have found that the ancient pottery of the Iberian Peninsula was more sophisticated than originally thought. Some affirm that in the 4th century B.C. the potter’s wheel was already being used in what would become the first pottery.
Neolithic pottery in the Iberian Peninsula can be divided into two parts:
Cardial (in which we have the almagra pottery, in what would be today Almeria, in which the engobe was used) and the smooth pottery, in the last stage of the Neolithic.
It is believed that the Neolithic cardial pottery found in the Iberian Peninsula was made in this way:
Starting from a ball, then the part of the hole was made by making a cavity, introducing the fingers we pulled the clay upwards squeezing it to give it the shape we wanted, so we got the hole that would make the container.
Then handles were glued to it, if necessary, joining them with some mud.
Also called the Copper Age, already in the Metal Age.
Here, bell-shaped ceramics were made, creating drinking vessels.
You’ll be surprised to learn that beer was already being drunk back in the day! This was made thousands of years ago from cultivated barley, as historians have shown.
We also have ceramics from Los Millares during this period.
Perhaps the best known of this age is the Argaric pottery. This culture flourished in the southeastern peninsular between approximately 2,300 and 1,500 BC. From that time we have numerous deposits with remains of their pottery.
Here we have pieces called Cogotas, whose key site for understanding this culture was discovered in Avila in 1973, tripod vases, and Celtic ceramics. Imprinted decoration was used at this time.
Before the arrival of the Romans to the peninsula at the end of the third century B.C., in addition to the Iberians, located on the Mediterranean side, in the central and northern area of the peninsula were the Celts, who have also left us remains of their culture.
These peoples were related to the Phoenicians, despite being on the other side of the Mediterranean, which enriched the techniques used in ceramics and trade.
Iberian pottery will have a very important place in history beyond the Roman Empire, becoming a basic pillar of the development of the peninsular culture and economy, especially in the Levant, a very important area of naval trade in the Mediterranean and a key pillar of what we know today as the “Iberian pottery”.
You can read also our guide about Spanish ceramics.
The Iberians lived mainly on the eastern coasts of the Iberian Peninsula.
These ancient settlers lived in villages and oppida, which were fortified elevated settlements for the domination of the surrounding lands). An oppidum (singular of oppida) could house inhabitants, who were farmers, artisans, etc., together with their rulers.
The Iberians of the eastern part of the peninsula were more urbanized than those of the central and northwestern parts of the peninsula. They worked in metallurgy. They had a class-structured society.
HOW IBERIAN POTTERY WAS MADE
To avoid confusion, we are now referring to the work of the Iberian people, as opposed to what would be the Iberian pottery production, by which we refer to that made throughout the Iberian Peninsula at different times and by different settlers.
In the Iberian pottery we would have different forms: Dishes, jars, pots, funerary urns, fire pots….
Many pieces depict scenes of daily life and mythological animals. On the other hand, for these settlers, ceramics had a great ceremonial and religious component.
The clay was worked on surfaces either using a lathe, or what today would be a lathe, with smaller dimensions and a manual turning system. These pieces would have a more refined finish than those made solely by hand without rotating means.
The cooking was done in ovens, which were often created in holes in the ground that contained bonfires. Logically, high temperatures, such as those required to fire porcelain, were not achieved, but they were sufficient for other types of ceramics such as terracottas.
Engobes were often used with an iron oxide base.
Other pieces were painted after firing, decorating them with natural pigments.
Since then, the Iberian pottery made throughout the peninsula has continued to flourish and become a treasure of the culture and art of the two neighboring and brotherly countries that form it.
You can also access some of our main ceramic guides below:
TYPES OF CERAMICS
Still in use since ancient times, there is a wide variety of ceramic styles with different applications, uses and origins.
Which ones to choose? There are some basic criteria to choose the most suitable clays for a specific job and achieve the expected result.
Choose the initial composition, create the shape, the color and use the different firings. I explain the main methodologies used.
A beautiful journey through this art. Key to the culture, economy and society of the country. A guide with all the styles, where to visit them, their history, etc.
Ceramic stoneware is widely used and valued. Know the essentials from the technical and artist’s point of view.
We tell you about its exciting history, why it was so appreciated, the myths about its arrival in the West. We review their types and differences.