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The Roman Pottery Kiln

The remains of several pottery kilns have been excavated throughout the entire Roman empire.
There has also been kilns found in other areas around the empire.



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How a Pit Kiln Works
Digital Kilns, How They Work
How To Pick A Kiln For My Needs
More Info On Picking Out A Kiln
Different Types Of Kilns
Tips for Complete Kiln Care
Monthly Kiln Maintenance
Kiln Safety
The Magical Kiln God
Do I Need A Kiln Vent?
Kiln Sitter
Troubleshooting Your Kiln Sitter
Kiln Firing Gauge
Roman Kilns
Kiln Patching
Kiln Wash
TeePee Kiln Firing
Cooling Rate of Kiln
Coat per Kiln Load
Building a Fast Firing Kiln
Placing, Checking a Witness Cones
How Different Temperatures Effect Clay
Electrical Plugins
Carbon Burnout Problems And Solutions
Cracks In Bottom Of The Kiln
Kiln Temperature Distribution
What Is Your Kiln Trying To Tell You
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Pyrometric Cones Q&A
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Common Kiln Firing Faults
What About Kiln Elements
Making Fire Bricks Last
Kiln Furniture
Loading The Kiln
Vegetable Oil Firing
Temperature & Rate Conversion Formula
Kiln Firing Logbook








It is very interesting how all the different kilns were made.
It makes you wonder how people of long ago were able to figure out how to build the kilns in the different shapes.

roman kiln diagram

The shape of a kiln can vary, but most of the kilns were built according to a few standards, such as:
In the front of the kiln there has to be a fuel hole as shown by A.
In this hole the kiln keeper would shove the fire wood into the fuel chamber and light a woodfire shown by B.
From this chamber, the heat is sucked up into the kiln room shown by C.

In the kiln room the pots are placed on a clay pipe grid which is placed above the fire.
Not only is the shape of the kiln copied from Roman examples, but the building materials are also the same.
A large part of the kiln walls were built from Roman rubble like broken roof tiles and pottery.
The bricks were laid with mud; a kind of mortar mix of clay and sand.
A part of the kiln is also built with mud stones which have been formed in a mold and dried in the wind.

The keyhole shape of the kiln is dug out of the ground.
The walls in the dug out hole are laid with broken brick and pottery.
The inside of this lining is smoothened with mud.
Later after the fire is built in the fuel chamber, this wall will be hardened.
The post in the center, which will later support the wooden grid, has already been built by fitting stones together.

Above the fuel chamber, a vaulted arch of braided willow twigs is put in place, roofing tiles and a thick mortar mixture is smoothed over the twigs.
The twigs are used to support the barrel vault ceiling on the fuel chamber when it is being built.
After the mud has dried and the kiln is heated, this support will burn away from underneath.
The barrel-vault made from Roman roofing tiles is almost finished.
The wall of the round kiln room is now raised from Roman roofing tile fragments and mud.

Just above the fuel chamber in the kiln room, the grid is placed on small ledges on the insides of the wall on which the pots will be put.
This grid consists of hollow pipes made of fired clay.
The pipes rest on the center post and on the kiln wall ledges.

The kiln wall is built higher.
To place the pots in the kiln, a space is made in the shape of an arch.
This space will be closed when the pots are in the kiln and is opened when lit.

In order to build the cupola furnace of the kiln, an instrument which was familiar to the Romans and originally comes from Northern Egypt, is used.
The instrument revolves around it's own spindle in the center of the kiln.
It can turn as well as hinge, because of this it is possible, during the construction, to determine the right angle and distance.

When the kiln is finished it can now be filled.
The pots are put on plates which are made of unbaked clay.
These plates rest on the grid, which consists of hollow pipes made of baked clay.
In the plates are round holes through which the heat can rise from the fuel chamber into the kiln room.

The kiln is now heated for 24 hours to a maximum temperature of 940 degrees Celsius. When this temperature is reached, the fuel chamber and the chimney are closed off.
That way the warmth has been kept in and as a result there was no draft in the kiln anymore
24 hours later the kiln will be cooled off to about 70 degrees Celsius and the filled up hole could be opened again carefully. .
The result is redish brown baked pottery.
Even the kiln has been baked on the inside.

This kiln can be used over and over and if any cracks appear, a motar mix can be smoothed over them and the kiln will be sealed again.

Roman Pottery Kiln by Sue White Image by Sue White

The smallest light is seen in the darkest night.



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