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by Archaeology Newsroom

A Souvenir from the Forgotten Aggeiokastro (Canakkale)

For many years now I have been collecting pots from Aggeiokastro (Canak-vase, Kale-castle in Turkish), an old toponym at the right side of the entrance to the Dardanelles, the narrowest section of the Hellespont Straits. Although the various bibliographical sources mention that the first samples of this pottery date from the late 17th to the early 18th centuries and they are products of Greek and Armenian craftsmen, they have internationally been considered as Islamic. Aggeiokastro (Canakkale) used to be a supply port, mainly of Greek trading and transportation ships travelling to the Black Sea. It prospers in the 19th century, and if we consult 20th century diaries, we will read that the 5,000 out of its 8,000 inhabitants were Christian orthodox, mainly Greeks. The people of Aggeiokastro managed to propagate their pottery to Russia, the Balkans and the Aegean islands and also to produce for a Turkish-speaking clientele. The plastic values of this pottery affected the later, modern Greek ceramics, and this influence is combined with the settlement of leading craftsmen in various areas of mainland Greece (Florina, Mytilene, Thessaloniki) after the Asia Minor catastrophe of 1922. The pot I am presenting must have been made in the middle of the 19th century. Its appearance is strange, anthropomorphic, with an applied decoration of flower petals and the distinct figure of Christ on the Cross at its front. It is 38 cm. high, the width of its base is 12 cm. and it has been glazed in a deep green colour. I suggest that it has been made for a high-ranking Church official and that in all probability it was used during tha Passion week in a church. On the occasion of this presentation I want to stress that, regardless of how daring this may seem, we must institute a Museum of Islamic Art in Greece. As opposed to our Folk Art Museums, it would elucidate many such ambiguous issues and it would take back in a skilful way whatever Greek the Turks have cleverly appropriated.