The word 'Craft' comes from the Middle English word for 'strength' or 'skill' derived from the Old English word craeft which comes from Old High German kraft, for strength, and means “skill in planning, making, executing” and, by extension, “an occupation or trade requiring skill” and crafts, then, being those objects resulting from the application of that skill (Merriam-Webster Dictionary). Every civilization has developed their own crafts and the term can be applied to numerous aspects of each of them. Within the scope of this article the term is applied only to hand-crafts including ceramics and metal-working but it should be understood that the term is equally applicable to writing and other forms of expression.

Crafts in the ancient world, both in their purpose and how they were manufactured, were as varied as the cultures which produced them. In ancient Mesopotamia, crafts were produced both by order of the state and privately. As early as 6500 BCE flax textiles were in use in the region known as Tepe Sabz (modern day Iran) and flax was woven both privately and by state workers prior to the rise of wool. From the city of Ur we have the Sumerian Standard of War and the Standard of Peace, both commissioned by the State and wrought by those whom, today, would be known as government employees.

More about: Crafts


  • 8000 BCE
    Ovens in use in the Near East are applied to pottery production.
  • 6500 BCE
    Textiles of flax.
  • c. 6200 BCE
    First copper smelting in Anatolia.
  • 5500 BCE
    Oldest faience workshop in Egypt founded at Abydos.
  • c. 1380 BCE
    First instances of iron working in the Hittite Empire.
  • c. 200 BCE
    Iron in the Celtic world experiences a significant boom. Iron manufacturing increase in all facets of life such as weapon construction and agriculture items.
  • 50 BCE
    Invention of glassblowing.