My mistake was in trying to make sense of a phrase by assuming it has always meant the same thing throughout history – Angus would say I had been applying a form of presentism when wondering about “throwing pottery.”
Is it called throwing because you slam the clay down onto the wheel head to secure it? Or because as a beginner you end up throwing away more pots than you keep? Or because the frustration of not producing a good pot on the wheel can cause you to throw the malformed objects across the studio?
Nope. Not any of those. I finally decided to look up the origins of “throw” in the dictionary, and lo and behold, my presentism was revealed. While our current definition and usage of the word does involve flinging and hurling objects in a sudden forward motion, the original definition (according to Dictionary.com) and usage of the Old English word thrawen means “to twist or turn.” This, of course, makes perfect sense! The potter’s wheel turns!
This exercise is a good reminder not to attach our current viewpoints onto events or objects of the past, especially the distant past–because we tend to Make Stuff Up.
I’ve discovered some research material published by The Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago on ancient pottery found around Mesopotamia dating to 3000 B.C. How big of a weirdo am I that this is exciting to me because I can now add pottery to my Textile Timeline for Ancient History?