Blessed with mild climate and fertile soil, the southern coastal area of Korea is ideal for agriculture. People have lived in this area since the Prehistoric Age, attracted by the abundant natural resources including fresh water and wood. The favorable natural environment also played an important role in the development of ceramics in the region, and the first ceramics were produced here at a very early point in history.
In 1907, earthenware from the Iron Age was discovered from a shell mound in Hoehyeon-ri, Gimhae-gun. As this was the first such discovery, the earthenware pieces found were dubbed Gimhae Earthenware.' Typical Iron Age earthenware was excavated from shell mounds along the downstream reaches of the Nakdonggang River. Gimhae Earthenware shows that the potters of the Iron Age had mastered highly sophisticated ceramic production techniques: They could even fire pieces at high temperatures and in reduction.
Unlike the plain, coarse earthenware of the same period, Gimhae earthenware was made of a fine earth mixture of 50-60% sand and 40-50% clay. After making the shape of a body by coiling, the neck and mouth of a piece were carefully built on a wheel, which was finished with the use of hands, a knife and a shell. Wheel throwing based on centrifugal force permitted rapid development of shape-building techniques.
On the entire surface of a typical jar was a checkered pattern or slant cross stripe patterns, which were created by beating the jar's surface. It is assumed that pottery-making techniques of the Warring States Period of China were introduced to the southern tip of the Korean peninsula through the Lo-lang (Korean: Nangnang) Commandery of Han China.
Gimhae earthenware is characterized by rounded bases: Typical plain earthenware had flat bottoms. Among the artifacts found in the area are short-net jars, large pots, small jars, flowerpot-shaped vessels, legged dishes, and rice steamers. Many of these have bullhorn-shaped handles on either or both sides. Legged dishes do not have covers, and no air holes were made in the legs.
Gimhae earthenware was fired at temperatures of 900-1000degrees Celsius. This indicates that they were fired in enclosed spaces, not over open bonfires, which suggests that there was strong influence from blacksmithing technology that was used at the time.