The area referred to as the Holy Land, which roughly corresponds to the geographical region located between the river Jordan and the Mediterranean Sea, has witnessed one of the longest productions of pottery in history, from the Neolithic period up until the 19th century. The Holy Land was also the first region to enter the Bronze Age, which began with the rise of the Mesopotamian civilization of Sumer in the mid-4th millennium BC. By the Pottery Neolithic (circa 5500-4500 BC) pottery was extremely widespread except in the desert areas, where semi-nomads preferred less heavy, bulky and fragile utensils.
In the Pre-Pottery Neolithic (circa 8300-5500 BC) the use of pyrotechnology, ie. the use of fire to reach temperatures of and above 1000°C, made it possible to obtain lime from limestone, from which vessels were then made, and so to produce plaster. This is known as whiteware and it served some of the purposes later fulfilled by pottery, although these vessels tended to be rather large and undecorated and were also rare.
The Chalcolithic Period
Later, in the Copper Age or Chalcolithic period (from the Ancient Greek χαλκός or khalkós, meaning “copper” and λίθος or líthos, meaning “stone”; circa early 4th millennium – 3500 BC) pottery started being decorated, either by the impression of mats on which they were made, leaving the weaving pattern on the surface of the vessels, or by painting or slipping the exterior of the vases. Incision was still limited at this time, although the wavy line or indented ledge handle makes its appearance in Holy Land pottery in this period, presaging its adoption as the most common type of handle throughout the Early Bronze Age.
The Bronze Age
The Bronze Age saw a further development in style and techniques of decoration. Pithoi, large storage vessels, jugs, pouring vessels, cups and bowls are the most common and widespread types at this time. Spinning wheels were introduced in the Early Bronze Age (circa 3500-2300 BC) and trading with Egypt seems substantial at this point. It is also important to note considerable regional difference in the crafting of the vessels. This includes many varieties of decoration, from geometrical lines and herringbone patterns to chocolate on white decoration, as well as stylistic influences from nearby countries such as Cyprus, from whence bichromism was imported.