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by Archaeology Newsroom

Recent research in Neolithic Thessaly

Thessaly is one of the regions where research into the Neolithic Age in Greece started thanks to the pioneering projects carried out by Chr. Tsoundas, in the dawn of the century, and by A. Wace and M. Thompson later on. It is, also, in

Thessaly that sites with Paleolithic tools were found ( on the banks of the river Peneios, close to Larissa) and were systematically researched for the first time in Greece due to the efforts of V. Milojcic and D. Theocharis, in the 1950s and 1960s .Intense research into the Neolithic Age in Thessaly has continued in the recent decades and has produced interesting results, some presented in this article. Due to the topographic work carried out in the last twenty years, about 100 new Prehistoric settlements have been located in the east Thessalian plain, thus raising their number to approximately 250 in this area. Furthermore, it has been established that the hilly circuit around the plain was densely inhabited in the Neolithic Age. The excavations at Souphli Magoula and Platia Magoula Zarkou brought to light the oldest known cremation burials in Greece, dating from the Early Neolithic period, in the first case.In the second case 300 m. north of the settlement an organized cremation cemetery dating from the beginning of the Late Neolithic period was found.

Stratigraphic excavations in the aforementioned two settlements and in Makrychori 2, in combination with the conclusions of previous research, contributed to the elucidation of certain phases of the Neolithic Age, as well as to the ascertainment of the continuous evolution of Neolithic ceramics in Thessaly. The correct dating of the black burnished pottery of the so-called Larissa Culture in the beginning of the Late Neolithic period is of special importance, since this pottery frequently occurs elsewhere in the Balkans. Furthermore, of significant importance are the new data concerning the ideology and customs of Neolithic humans. In Platia Magoula Zarkou a clay house model with figurines was found, which had been placed under the floor of a Late Neolithic house as a foundation offering. Certain accidental surface finds, such as an “apotropaic mask” of the Middle Neolithic period, the figurine of a “thinker” and a group of two embracing figurines, combined with the aforementioned research results, lead to extremely interesting conclusions: Many kinds of artistic expression, as well as a variety of customs which appear in the historic era or in advanced prehistoric periods, are, in fact, deeply rooted in the Neolithic Age.