These massive pithoi are now bought as decorative additions to tavernas, hotels and gardens, but originally were used to store oil, wine, olives and nuts and even as burial chambers. Fragments of similar vessels have been found dating back to Minoan times.
The largest of these pots stood taller than a person. Studies suggest they could hold over two tons of oil. Because of their size and weight, the base of the pithoi would be partially buried for stability and they could only be used on the ground floor of buildings. Surprisingly, these gargantuan pots were thrown on a simple wheel. The base was formed prior to coils of clay being added until the desired height was reached. The pot would then be turned and smoothed before curing in a clay oven fuelled by olive wood gathered from the surrounding hills.
Before the potters had trucks to transport their wares, they would travel from the village by donkey carrying tools, clay and even their kilns with them, in order to make pots for customers in situ.