Throughout history, ceramics have an important part to play in understanding the culture, technology, and behaviours of humans. Ceramic fragments can tell us a lot about what people ate and their methods of cooking, their journeys and trade partners, and their level of technological and creative sophistication. Ceramics have been made and used by humans for at least 26,000 years, with the earliest examples of sculpted ceramic figurines found in southern central Europe. It was not until 10,000 years later that domestic pottery for dishes became common, with makers mixing clay and animal product to form the objects.  Nowadays, ceramics can be used for many reasons, but the most common uses range from structural, such as bricks, pipes and tiles for floors and roofs; domestic whiteware including decorative wall tiles, and domestic sanitary products like lavatories and sinks; technical ceramics for use in engineering; in refractories, for kiln linings, and in steel and glass making; and, as shown in this section, practical and ornamental decorative ceramics.
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