Pottery was one of the earliest art forms undertaken by the ancient Egyptians. Pieces from the Predynastic period (5000 bc-3000 bc) are decorated with ostriches, boats, and geometrical designs.
In the 5th millennium bc Egyptian potters made graceful, thin, dark, highly polished ware with subtle cord decoration. The painted ware of the 4th millennium, with geometric and animal figures on red, brown, and buff bodies, was not of the same high standard.
Dynastic Egypt was famous for its faience (to be distinguished from the later European ceramics of that name). First made about 2000 bc, it is characterized by a dark green or blue glaze over a body high in powdered quartz, somewhat closer to glass than to true ceramics. Egyptian artisans made faience beads and jewelry, elegant cups, scarabs, and ushabti (small servant figures buried with the dead).