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by Archaeology Newsroom

Middle-Byzantine pottery workshops in Thessaly

The Folkore Society of Larissa was founded at the beginning of 1974 aiming to create a Folklore Museum. One of the activities of the members of the Society was the collection of Byzantine shards and intact ceramics from the refuse accumulated from lots, excavated for erecting apartment buildings. The classification of the finds, on the basis of their decorative style, has been quite enlightening. The oldest Medieval ceramics collected so far, date from the eleventh and twelfth centuries, the peak of power and culture of the Byzantine Empire. The decorative motives and techniques used in Middle-Byzantine ceramics collected in Thessaly are related to similar ones produced in established, well-known centers. The commonly accepted theory that the Byzantine ceramics of each historic period share a common ideological concept (workmanship, decoration, even vase morphology), diverging only slightly in variations or particularities, is once more confirmed by the study of the forementioned finds. The Byzantine ceramics originating from the geographically bipolar towns of Larissa and Tyrnavos present certain distinct characteristics, such as the representation, on certain plates, of human figures, animals, birds and scenes from the Old Testament, which are depicted in relief and are arranged in broad zones on the interior of the vessels. Another such trait is the fine white layer applied on the unpainted, plain exterior of broad, open vessels from the upper rim down to the annular base and occasionally extending over it: this particularity is, among others, quite suggestive for the chronological classification of the items. Although the actual data is still missing, the plethora of indications supporting the local manufacturing of ceramics in Larissa and Tyrnavos have resulted in the withdrawal of alll the author’s reservations regarding this question.