3,000 B.C. The Pharaoh decorates the inner chambers of the Step Pyramid with the most beautiful material available. Glazed ceramic tile in gleaming reds, yellows, blues. The room is to protect him from demons throughout eternity.

Five thousand years later, archaeologists, not demons, open his pyramid. The ceramic tile is as handsome as the day it was set, ready for five thousand more years of service. No wonder it's the natural thing to use.

When you choose ceramic tile for your home, you're getting a fabulous history with it. For some 70 centuries people have been using small sunbaked squares of clay to surface and beautify.

Traces go back to Egypt of 4700 B.C. To ancient Crete and Babylon. To Golden-Age Greece and Rome before Christ. To centuries­ old China and Japan.

On Baghdad shrines you can see Persian wall tiles left over from the Middle Ages. The courtyards and chambers of Spanish-castles­ the Alhambra for one-are treasured for their ceramic tile. They are still making that wild sixteenth century tile­ covered Nuremberg stove you read about in school.

They're still imitat­ing Delft, the lovely white and­ blue handpainted squares brought from Holland for Colonial fireplaces.

At first ceramic tile was the property of pharaohs and kings, churches and governments. Now it's the natural thing for you to use. Now it's prized simply because it is natural. People want to do their decorating with natural, honest, earthy materials.

What exactly is ceramic tile? It is a mixture of clays which are baked at an extremely high temper­ature to make the shape permanent. The materials are refined, pulverized, pressed or cut into shapes, then drawn through a kiln (a tunnel-­like oven up to 400 feet long) for from 13 hours to several days. In the intense heat (at times 2,200 degrees!) the body hardens. Ceramic tile!

Now it's permanent. Now it's a snap to clean. Just wipe with water and your household cleaner. There are surface-color tiles where the color is sprayed on before the firing. These are known as glazed tiles. There are body-color tiles where the color goes all the way through. With these you can decorate with the natural clay colors (quarry tile). Or choose from a whole spectrum created by premixing the clay with natural pigment (ceramic mosaics).