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A Human History
  • Author
    • Jennifer Lucy Allan
Regular price £20.00
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'Over 20,000 years ago a woman took a fist of soft red clay, looked down at her own pregnant body swollen with new life, and with her hands, formed the clay into an image of herself. She kneaded and pushed it into a form that mirrored what she saw. Today, I can do the same. Between her hand and mine, there is a quarter of a million years of human history, and throughout all of that history, there is the clay that we both hold.'

People have been taking handfuls of earth and forming them into their own image since human history began. Human forms are found everywhere there was a ceramic tradition, and there is a ceramic tradition everywhere there was human activity. The clay these figures are made from was formed in deep geological time. It is the material that God, cast as the potter, uses to form Adam in Genesis. Tomb paintings in Egypt show the god Khum at a potter's wheel, throwing a human. Humans first recorded our own history on clay tablets, the shape of the characters influenced by the clay itself. The first love poem was inscribed in a clay tablet, from a Sumerian bride to her king more than 4000 years ago, and this book is a love letter to clay, the material that is at the beginning, middle and end of all of our lives; that contains within it the eternal, the elemental, the profound and the everyday.

Born out of a desire to know and understand this material in both its micro and macro histories, Clay: A Human History combines the author's own experience with clay with archaeology and history, to tell the story about our relationship with this most profound everyday material.
  • Published: Jul 25 2024
  • Pages: 272
  • ISBN: 9781399607643
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