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Iraq’s ancient pottery struggles to outlive modern plastic

Adel al-Kawwaz expertly spins the potter's wheel, shaping the wet clay into a smooth jug. His family is famous for this millennia-old Iraqi craft, but Kawwaz is struggling to keep it alive. For thousands of years, clay utensils for storing food and cooking were found in virtually every home in Sumer, the earliest known civilization in modern-day southern Iraq. Kawwaz's own family drew their name from the jug, or "kawz" in Arabic, which they have produced for more than 200 years from clay found at a lake by Najaf, a…