Three-phase firing (or three-step firing) or iron reduction technique is a firing technique used in ancient Greek pottery production, specifically for painted vases. Already vessels from the Bronze Age feature the colouring typical of the technique, with yellow, orange or red clay and brown or red decoration. By the 7th century BC, the process was perfected in mainland Greece (Corinth and Athens) enabling the production of extremely shiny black-slipped surfaces, which led to the development of the black-figure and red-figure techniques, which dominated Greek vase painting until about 300 BC.
The conventional view, developed in modern times in view of a lack of contemporary accounts, was that painted Greek pottery received a single firing, after the shaped pot had been dried leather-hard and then painted. But the firing had three phases, designed to create the intended colours. Sometimes further painting in other colours was added after firing, especially in white-ground and Hellenistic vases. However, new studies instead provide material evidence that the pottery was made with two or more separate firingsin which the pottery is subjected to multiple firing stages. The conventional view is described in more detail below, but the possibility of different firings for the phases described should be kept in mind.
All colours of Greek black-red vase painting are produced by the different concentrations of iron in the clay, and the different degrees to which that iron is oxidised during firing. Iron has the special feature of forming oxides of various colours, including grey Iron(II) oxide (FeO), red Iron(III) oxide (Fe2O3), and deep black magnetite (Fe3O4). Which of these types of oxidation is achieved depends on the availability of oxygen and the temperature of the reactive mix: a high oxygen content encourages the production of Fe2O3, while a lack of it tends to lead to the creation of FeO or Fe3O4. Thus, the colour of iron-rich clays can be influenced by controlling the atmosphere during firing, aiming for it to be either "reducing" (i.e. poor in oxygen and rich in carbon) or "oxidising" (i.e. rich in oxygen). This control is the essence of three-phase firing.
To achieve more than one colour on a given vase, a further trick is necessary: The black magnetite Fe3O4 has to be prevented from returning to matt red hematite Fe2O3. In other words, the areas to remain black have to be denied access to oxygen, their oxidised particles must be "sealed". This is achieved by using a further property of the clay: the vitrification point, i.e. the temperature at which the individual clay particles irreversibly merge, depends on the composition of the clay and on the particles contained in it.
Smaller clay particles and a high calcium content lower the sintering point.The production of finely varied painting slips was achieved through levigation and the subsequent scooping off of various layer. The addition of "peptising" substances (i.e. substances that break up and separate the clay particles and prevent them from coagulating again) can further reduce particle size. Such substances include caustic soda (NaOH), ammonia (NH3), potash (K2CO3) and polyphosphates such as calgon (NaPO3)6: these attach themselves to the clay particles with strong hydrogen bonds and thus prevent them, in a similar way to tensides, from rejoining and coagulating again. In other words, the clay particles are now in a state of colloid suspension.
Before firing, the clay vessels were densely stacked in the kiln. Since Attic pottery contains no glazes proper (i.e. ones that melt and vitrify completely), vessels could touch in the kiln. However, it was of major importance to achieve a good circulation of air/gas, so as to prevent misfiring.
Typical firing probably took place at a temperature of 850 to 975 degrees Celsius. °C, after 6 or 7 hours, true firing of the now red-hot vessels began. With a constant supply of oxygen and a still increasing temperature, the iron-rich shiny slip oxidised and turned red, along with the rest of the vessel. During this process, the iron content is transformed into deep red hematite (Fe2O3). It is not necessary but highly likely that this kindling phase took place in an oxidising atmosphere: an oxygen-rich fire is likely in any case, since it is much more effective in producing heat. Further, the fact that reducing fires are extremely smoky would probably have been considered undesirable, and they were thus limited to the relatively short 2nd phase.With constant firing of the kiln, such temperatures were reached after about 8 to 9 hours. During this process, the vessels in the oven initially lost whatever moisture remained in them. At a temperature of 500
At about 900 °C, the oxygen supply is cut, creating reducing conditions, so that red hematite Fe2O3 turns to deep black magnetite Fe3O4. In antiquity this could be achieved through closing the air supply openings and adding non-dried brushwood and green wood, which would only burn incompletely, producing carbon monoxide (CO rather than CO2). The temperature was held for some time, probably at about 945 °C, to assure a complete melting and sintering of the fine-particled paint slip. Subsequently, the temperature sank below the sintering (vitrification) point of the painted slip again, while still in a reducing atmosphere. Now, the slip is "sealed" and permits no further oxygen to react with its contents, so that the magnetite Fe3O4-oxides within it retain their black colour.
During the final phase of firing, the aeration openings of the kiln are reopened: oxidising conditions are restored. Those areas of the vessels that were not sealed in phase 2 now reoxidise: black magnetite Fe3O4 turns back into red hematite Fe2O3.After complete oxidation of the red areas, the kiln could be opened, its contents were then permitted to cool down slowly, and eventually removed.
A precondition for three-phase firing was a controllable kiln. Apparently, the necessary technology was developed in Corinth in the 7th century BC. Only the domed kilns with vent openings invented then allowed the production of black.figure, and subsequently of red-figure pottery.The control of temperature could be assured visually by using a viewing hole, or through placing test pieces in the oven.
Hematite, also spelled as haematite, is a common iron oxide with a formula called Fe2O3 and has been widespread in rocks and soils. Hematite forms in the shape of crystals through the rhombohedral lattice system, and it has the same crystal structure as ilmenite and corundum. Hematite and ilmenite form a complete solid solution at temperatures above 950 °C (1,740 °F).
Raku ware is a type of Japanese pottery traditionally used in Japanese tea ceremonies, most often in the form of chawan tea bowls. It is traditionally characterised by being hand-shaped rather than thrown, fairly porous vessels, which result from low firing temperatures, lead glazes and the removal of pieces from the kiln while still glowing hot. In the traditional Japanese process, the fired raku piece is removed from the hot kiln and is allowed to cool in the open air. The familiar technique of placing the ware in a container filled with combustible material is not a traditional Raku practice.
Limonite is an iron ore consisting of a mixture of hydrated iron(III) oxide-hydroxides in varying composition. The generic formula is frequently written as FeO(OH)·nH2O, although this is not entirely accurate as the ratio of oxide to hydroxide can vary quite widely. Limonite is one of the three principal iron ores, the others being hematite and magnetite, and has been mined for the production of iron since at least 2500 BCE.
Iron ores are rocks and minerals from which metallic iron can be economically extracted. The ores are usually rich in iron oxides and vary in colour from dark grey, bright yellow, or deep purple to rusty red. The iron is usually found in the form of magnetite (Fe
4, 72.4% Fe), hematite (Fe
3, 69.9% Fe), goethite (FeO(OH), 62.9% Fe), limonite (FeO(OH)·n(H2O), 55% Fe) or siderite (FeCO3, 48.2% Fe).
Iron(III) oxide or ferric oxide is the inorganic compound with the formula Fe2O3. It is one of the three main oxides of iron, the other two being iron(II) oxide (FeO), which is rare; and iron(II,III) oxide (Fe3O4), which also occurs naturally as the mineral magnetite. As the mineral known as hematite, Fe2O3 is the main source of iron for the steel industry. Fe2O3 is readily attacked by acids. Iron(III) oxide is often called rust, and to some extent this label is useful, because rust shares several properties and has a similar composition. To a chemist, rust is considered an ill-defined material, described as hydrated ferric oxide.
Wüstite (FeO) is a mineral form of iron(II) oxide found with meteorites and native iron. It has a gray color with a greenish tint in reflected light. Wüstite crystallizes in the isometric-hexoctahedral crystal system in opaque to translucent metallic grains. It has a Mohs hardness of 5 to 5.5 and a specific gravity of 5.88. Wüstite is a typical example of a non-stoichiometric compound.
Terra sigillata is a term with at least three distinct meanings: as a description of medieval medicinal earth; in archaeology, as a general term for some of the fine red Ancient Roman pottery with glossy surface slips made in specific areas of the Roman Empire; and more recently, as a description of a contemporary studio pottery technique supposedly inspired by ancient pottery. Usually roughly translated as 'sealed earth', the meaning of 'terra sigillata' is 'clay bearing little images', not 'clay with a sealed (impervious) surface'. The archaeological term is applied, however, to plain-surfaced pots as well as those decorated with figures in relief.
Ancient Greek pottery, due to its relative durability, comprises a large part of the archaeological record of ancient Greece, and since there is so much of it, it has exerted a disproportionately large influence on our understanding of Greek society. The shards of pots discarded or buried in the 1st millennium BC are still the best guide available to understand the customary life and mind of the ancient Greeks. There were several vessels produced locally for everyday and kitchen use, yet finer pottery from regions such as Attica was imported by other civilizations throughout the Mediterranean, such as the Etruscans in Italy. There were various specific regional varieties, such as the South Italian ancient Greek pottery.
Iron(II,III) oxide is the chemical compound with formula Fe3O4. It occurs in nature as the mineral magnetite. It is one of a number of iron oxides, the others being iron(II) oxide (FeO), which is rare, and iron(III) oxide (Fe2O3) also known as hematite. It contains both Fe2+ and Fe3+ ions and is sometimes formulated as FeO ∙ Fe2O3. This iron oxide is encountered in the laboratory as a black powder. It exhibits permanent magnetism and is ferrimagnetic, but is sometimes incorrectly described as ferromagnetic. Its most extensive use is as a black pigment. For this purpose, it is synthesised rather than being extracted from the naturally occurring mineral as the particle size and shape can be varied by the method of production.
Bizen ware is a type of Japanese pottery traditionally from Bizen province, presently a part of Okayama prefecture.
Chinese ceramics show a continuous development since pre-dynastic times and are one of the most significant forms of Chinese art and ceramics globally. The first pottery was made during the Palaeolithic era. Chinese ceramics range from construction materials such as bricks and tiles, to hand-built pottery vessels fired in bonfires or kilns, to the sophisticated Chinese porcelain wares made for the imperial court and for export. Porcelain was a Chinese invention and is so identified with China that it is still called "china" in everyday English usage.
Tin-glazing is the process of giving ceramic items a glaze that is white, glossy and opaque, which is normally applied to red or buff earthenware. Tin-glaze is plain lead glaze with a small amount of tin oxide added. The opacity and whiteness of tin glaze encourage its frequent decoration with overglaze colour. Majolica, maiolica, delftware and faience are among the terms used for common types of tin-glazed pottery. An alternative is lead-glazing, where the basic glaze is transparent; some types of pottery use both.
Ceramic glaze is an impervious layer or coating of a vitreous substance which has been fused to a ceramic body through firing. Glaze can serve to color, decorate or waterproof an item. Glazing renders earthenware vessels suitable for holding liquids, sealing the inherent porosity of unglazed biscuit earthenware. It also gives a tougher surface. Glaze is also used on stoneware and porcelain. In addition to their functionality, glazes can form a variety of surface finishes, including degrees of glossy or matte finish and color. Glazes may also enhance the underlying design or texture either unmodified or inscribed, carved or painted.
In geology, a redox buffer is an assemblage of minerals or compounds that constrains oxygen fugacity as a function of temperature. Knowledge of the redox conditions (or equivalently, oxygen fugacities) at which a rock forms and evolves can be important for interpreting the rock history. Iron, sulfur, and manganese are three of the relatively abundant elements in the Earth's crust that occur in more than one oxidation state. For instance, iron, the fourth most abundant element in the crust, exists as native iron, ferrous iron (Fe2+), and ferric iron (Fe3+). The redox state of a rock affects the relative proportions of the oxidation states of these elements and hence may determine both the minerals present and their compositions. If a rock contains pure minerals that constitute a redox buffer, then the oxygen fugacity of equilibration is defined by one of the curves in the accompanying fugacity-temperature diagram.
Bucchero is a class of ceramics produced in central Italy by the region's pre-Roman Etruscan population. This Italian word is derived from the Latin poculum, a drinking-vessel, perhaps through the Spanish búcaro, or the Portuguese púcaro.
This is a list of pottery and ceramic terms.
The surface of the planet Mars appears reddish from a distance because of rusty dust suspended in the atmosphere. From closeup, it looks more of a butterscotch, and other common surface colors include golden, brown, tan, and greenish, depending on minerals.
Goryeo ware refers to all types of Korean pottery and porcelain produced during the Goryeo dynasty, from 918 to 1392, but most often refers to celadon (greenware).
Magnetic mineralogy is the study of the magnetic properties of minerals. The contribution of a mineral to the total magnetism of a rock depends strongly on the type of magnetic order or disorder. Magnetically disordered minerals contribute a weak magnetism and have no remanence. The more important minerals for rock magnetism are the minerals that can be magnetically ordered, at least at some temperatures. These are the ferromagnets, ferrimagnets and certain kinds of antiferromagnets. These minerals have a much stronger response to the field and can have a remanence.
Black-glazed ware is a type of ancient Greek fine pottery. The modern term describes vessels covered with a shiny black slip.