In the fifth century AD, potters in Korea developed new technologies to produce hard, well-fired stoneware ceramics, such as these three small vessels. They used large wood-fired kilns that could reach sustained temperatures above 1000°C. By limiting airflow into the kilns, potters created an oxygen-poor “reducing” atmosphere, which resulted in ceramics that are a characteristic gray color. The vessels shown here date to the middle of this period of remarkable technological innovation: the latter part of Korea’s Late Three Kingdoms (57 BC–AD 668) and the early centuries of the subsequent Unified Silla period (AD 668–935), when one of the kingdoms—Silla—succeeded in ruling a unified Korea. During these periods, small serving vessels such as these were used as containers to hold offerings for funerary rituals and burials. The original provenience of these vessels is unknown, but they probably came from burials. Colonel John R. Fox donated them to the Museum (see also Day 71 and Day 79).
In honor of the University of Michigan’s 2017 bicentennial, we are celebrating the remarkable archaeological and ethnographic collections and rich legacy of research and teaching at the Museum of Anthropological Archaeology by posting one entry a day for 200 days. The entries will highlight objects from the collections, museum personalities, and UMMAA expeditions. The Kelsey Museum of Archaeology is also posting each day for 200 days on Twitter and Facebook (follow along at #KMA200). After the last post, an exhibition on two centuries of archaeology at U-M opens at the Kelsey. Visit the exhibit—a joint project of the UMMAA and the Kelsey—from October 18, 2017 to May 27, 2018.