Humans have inhabited the Korean peninsula from as early as the Pleistocene era, about 500,000 B.C. By the Neolithic period, beginning in about 7000 B.C., small settlements of hunters, fishers, and foragers are established near rivers or coastal areas. As in the case of other Neolithic cultures, pottery is one of the defining features of Korea’s Neolithic period. The earliest pottery—handcrafted clay vessels fired in open or semi-open pits at a relatively low temperature of approximately 700ºC—is used for preparing, serving, and storing food. The most typical Neolithic pottery in Korea is the so-called comb-pattern earthenware, which has a coniform or round base and is decorated with the distinctive incised or impressed linear patterns that give this ware its name.