To see some examples of pots made without a wheel click on this link. http://images.encarta.msn.com/xrefmedia/sharemed/targets/images/pho/000a4/000a4fbe.jpg
What a fascinating post on the history of ceramics. I really enjoyed it and compliment you on the exhaustive research on the subject.
Thanks Darlene, I have picked up on these ideas over many years and I keep thinking of their meaning by writing and painting making connections.Recently I have watched the Questar Mystic Lands DVD series. It was interesting to contrast the ancient mariners of Persia with an advanced culture that did not develop a potters wheel.The Anasazi mysteriously disappeared 700 years ago in the four corners of the United States. The Anasazi made lop sided ceramics that look like they were made on the dry ground without even a turnette. Yet they were always seeking a spiritual center according to Pueblo myth. They built a spiritual space with temporary dwellings in a canyon. It had seven roads leading to it like the spokes of a wheel. All appeared to be lead back to settlements except one that lead to a dead end with unusual rocks. All along the road were shards of broken pottery. The Pueblo people believe the ceramics were offerings to the gods. The Anasazi broke them because they feared someone would come and steal them if they were whole. I speculate that the rounded boulders in the canyon at the end of the road symbolized life and trust in the other world from which they appeared to come like themselves. The eroded pedestal was the hopelessness of this world. They did not have a feeling for their pottery was a vessel like themselves filled with life's waters. They could not have felt the feeling of clay centered on the wheel and the water in the clay along with the centrifugal force giving the potter the feeling that the pot is alive.
Then "Rain", who has studied the Native American History of the Four Corners found my premise unsupportable from her own experience owning replicas of their ceramics. She believes a wheel is not needed to make uniformly round pots. Rounded uniform pots can be made from coils or slabs. Rain contends furthermore that water cannot be kept in ceramic vessels burned at low temperatures in open pits because the low fire ceramic is too porous.
To make a uniformly round pot from coils the clay is rolled between the hands making the clay particles line up around and around themselves in tight formation. The coils configured of organized particles resist being pushed together. The wrapped coils forming a vessel must be either glued together with slip or pinched together leaving weak and strong unevenness at its basic structure. The appearance can be evened out by beating the exterior with a flat potters rib while pressing from the inside of the vessel outward with the other hand. All the while one is beating on the clay either the vessel must be moved evenly like on a tournette or the potter has to move around. When the potter moves around lopsidedness occurs which is then distorted even more during the firing.
Building uniform rounded pots from slabs has a number of physical problems. First, when the flat surface is pushed out for the belly of the pot, the slab becomes thinner. When the slab is necked in for the top of container the slab becomes pinched together in folds and much thicker. A rounded slab construction may have all the clay particles in alignment but because the clay wall is so thin at the belly and thick at the neck it may not even make it through the firing. And the pots that hold together through the firing may not contain water well.
In contrast with hand building, wheel "thrown" pots have the help of an extra hand - centrifugal force pushing up and outward. The potter keeps the clay particles centered while a uniformly thick wall is thrown up by the force.
I do not have an expertise for a comparison of the quality of clays of the Colorado River and Four Corner Area to the clays of the Tigris, Euphrates, Nile, and Yellow River. The inland clay of the Four Corners may have been so poor for holding together that even with a tournette or potters wheel the clay could not have stored water.
As for clay slab construction: Hand building is not without the technology of the wheel. The outer edge of a hand rolled slab is thinner than the center. So if a pot is fashioned from a rolled slab the foot would become the center of the vessel and the thinner outer edge would have to be the necked in to a smaller top.
There are other ways to make uniform slabs without the wheel. A slab can be formed by throwing the clay on a flat surface repeatedly. This works with clay of good elasticity but if the clays of the Four Corners were poor quality the clay would have just crumbled apart. They may have been limited to coil or small pinch pots.
Still another way to make slabs is to cut a rounded ball of clay with a long cutting edge like twine or strong hide strips.They probably did not have wire. Cutting a ball of clay would make a slab with less organized particles than the rolled ones. The air bubbles could cause the pot to break during firing.
The drawings were done about 30 years ago. They show the physical dynamics of the hand building technique as being awkward for making uniformly rounded vessels.