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The definition of pottery used by the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) is "all fired ceramic wares that contain clay when formed, except technical, structural, and refractory products." Pottery is one of the oldest human inventions, originating before the Neolithic period, with ceramic objects like the Gravettian culture Venus of Dolní Věstonice figurine discovered in the Czech Republic date back to 29,000–25,000 BC, Pottery is made by forming a ceramic (often clay) body into objects of a required shape and heating them to high temperatures in a kiln which removes all the water from the clay, which induces reactions that lead to permanent changes including increasing their strength and hardening and setting their shape.
The place where such wares are made by a potter is also called a pottery (plural "potteries").
As a rough guide, modern earthenwares are normally fired at temperatures in the range of about 1,000°C (1,830 °F) to 1,200 °C (2,190 °F); stonewares at between about 1,100 °C (2,010 °F) to 1,300 °C (2,370 °F); and porcelains at between about 1,200 °C (2,190 °F) to 1,400 °C (2,550 °F).
Historically, reaching high temperatures was a long-lasting challenge, and earthenware can be fired effectively as low as 600°C, achievable in primitive pit firing.
It is only after firing that the article or material is pottery.
In lower-fired pottery, the changes include sintering, the fusing together of coarser particles in the body at their points of contact with each other.These can then be altered by impressing, bulging, carving, fluting, and incising.