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Author: Konstantinos Vouzaxakis, archaeologist

[lollum_dropcap]B[/lollum_dropcap]eside the numerous and various exhibits, special interest in the Museum of Volos presents the way of exhibition in the halls with the Neolithic artifacts and the halls with the representation of the graves.They allow the visitor to have a more direct contact with the antiquities and comprehend their function easier. Periodical exhibitions take place in two halls of the Museum from time to time. At the moment there is an exhibition of the Angelos Bastis collection of Neolithic artifacts from all over Thessaly, which has been donated to the Museum. There is also an exhibition of the new acquistitions of the Museum which come from the recent excavations in the regions of Magnesia and Karditsa.

An educational programme from Primary school pupils has been put into practice, the subject of which is “Neolithic culture: Οnce upon a time in Sesklo and Dimini”.

Τhe Archaeological Museum of Volos was built in 1909 with funds disposed by Alexis Athanassakis from the village Portaria of Pilion. The style of the building is neoclassic and the plans were executed by I. P. Skoutaris and A. Angelidis.

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RESEARCHES AND DISCOVERIES AFTER THE ACCESSION OF GREECE INTO EU

[lollum_dropcap]A[/lollum_dropcap]fter Greece’s accession into European Union, started constructions of large scale of works with development infrastructure. The widening of the National Road, the organization of the provincial railway network, the works for the reflooding of the lake Karla, and the biological water – cleaning of the city of Volos constitute some important works. All these excavations brought to light many archaeological sites such, as:

1. During the road – widening of the National road Athens – Thessaloniki a unique settlement of the transitional period from the Final Neolithic to the Early Bronze Age was located in the Mikrothebes junction. The settlement was developed on a “Magoula”, 3km away from the sea, and in an area of about 20.000m2. It’s position, on the southwest of the Pagasetic golf, which represented the main way out of the central Greece to the sea, permitted connection with the Aegean world and also the flat inland.

Excavations brought to light architectural remains of five habitation units. They consist of rectangular huts with walls made of straw or branch complex, and intermediate wooden posts lying on the ground or on stone foundations or piles mortar (wattle and daub wall). There was a double mortar revetment for water-tightness. The double-pitched roof was made of a wooden framework weaved with straws and branches and probably an outside mortar dressing, while the floor was made of hard beaten clay or earth. The post-holes found outside the huts estify the existence of spaces covered with a roof. The constructions found in the interior of the habitation units form a characteristic of the social organization and the local economic strategies. They consist of clay and stone constructions for food preparation, storage and other domestic uses, and clay “trapezae” rectangular or oval – shaped “cases”, which probably served as storage and preparation areas.
More information about daily life come out of the nutritional remains (concentrations of animal bones, grains of cereals, oak-apples and sea shells), the tools (bronze daggers, stabbers, chisels, two incised stone axes, blades of Pindos’ flint, clay spindle whorls, stone seal), a large number of various vessels. Bowls and pithoi are the more representative shapes, but there are also other conical, polished cups, without handles, pithoi with anthropomorphic relief decoration, and incised, polished bowls, which testify an influence from the North (Albania) and the East (Asia Minor). Vase’s decoration especially the incised, from the local production and diffusion workshops, demanded special attention and a lot of times as well as skilled work. At Microthebes we meet a new type of dotted or simply dotted decoration on ceramic objects. It’s known as type of “Bratislava”. The exterior and the interior surface is coated and very well burnished or smoothed. Only the exterior of the pot is decorated. The running spirals consist the central subjects with incised or dotted decoration. All incised motifs are filled with white cruste. The type of this bowl has been found in Karpathia, in Balkans and generally in Siutheast Europe. In Greece it has been located in Doliana of Ioannina, in Rachi Panagia magoula of Phthiotida, in Megalo Nisi Galanis of Kozani, in Petromagula (Magnesia) and in the prehestoric settlement of Mikrothebes junction in Magnesia. We suppode that this type of pottery was spread in Thessaaly from Kosovo-South Albania-Epirus or from West Bulgary-Macedonia. Carbonized acorns radiocarbon-dated the settlement to 3670 BC (Democritus).

2. In the Aerino junction, five tholos tombs of the Geometric period, ten entire and two partly reserved houses of the Early and middle Bronze Age have been excavated.

During the Proto-Geometric period (10th – 9th century BC) some tombs are dug in the foothill of the “Castle”, which cut through the Mycenaean strata they are part of an extensive cemetery with “tholos” and simple shaft or cist graves , which correspond to the earlier Mycenaean cemetery tomb types. The architectural remains of this period are scarce and leave a number of questions open, as to the exact spot, the extent and the plan of the settlement. The cemetery excavation has provided us nonetheless with a wealth of evidence for the economy and society, and it mostly confirmed the continuity of the tradition of multiple burials in a “tholos” tomb from the Mycenaean to the Early Geometric period.
The poor indications for the use of space in the Classical, Hellenistic and Roman periods, with isolated burials and fragmentary architectural remains, should perhaps lead us into suggesting a decline of the settlement, or a recession of its importance in the wider region. In the space where the Mycenaean, Proto-Geometric and Early Geometric periods spun, a cemetery was also dug in the Byzantine period. The last period of occupation in the site is the post-Byzantine.
In the Mycenaean period, and especially in the periods called Late Helladic IIB and IIA-C (1440 – 1100 BC), habitation continues on the hill and in the surrounding area. “Megaron” type buildings with one or two rectangular spaces, in the front of which an open-air antechamber is built, and side storage spaces, are constructed in close proximity these buildings are made of mud-bricks on top of stone foundations, and bear a tiled roof. The activities of the inhabitants, their daily life, their ideology, and their external contacts become even clearer from the variety of finds retrieved not only from the settlement, but also from the extensive burial site with the “tholos” and chamber tombs, the simple cist and shaft graves. Based on these elements, emerges the pictures of a town that flourishes in the time of the “Mycenaean koine” and the great expansion of the Mycenaean civilization, which gradually recedes towards the end of the period.

3. Within the framework of the reflooding of the lake Karla, (Ancient Voiviis) 14 ancient settlements have been brought to light, which testify a diachronic occupation from the Late Neolithic until the Late Hellenistic period and later on, until the Byzantine period. In the southeastern slope of a rock hill called “Korifoula” a settlement and a cemetery with small built tholos tombs of the Mycenaean period has been searched, that will be displayed as an archeological site.

The cemetery and the Mycenaean settlement confirm the ancient sources attlesting the existence of big cities around the lake Voiviis from the Bronze Age. “Pherae were exploiting Voiviis and Glaphyrae, nearby the lake Voiviis,… ruled by the friend of Admetus the young Eymelus, with eleven boats…”. (Homer, Ilias, B, 711 – 714.)

4. At Chloe – Velestino area they found five small tholos tombs from Protogeometric period and a cremation pit from Mycenaean period.

5. At Velestino and Saint Georgiou Feron area excavations brought to light cremation pits and parts of buildings from the Classic and Hellenistic period.

The ancient city of Pherai, one of the most important in Thessaly, with a continuous historical evolution of over three thousand years (3000 BC – 1st c. AD), was located on the site of the modern town of Velestino, at the crossroads of main routes. In the area of Chloe, a village near Velestino, belonging to the territory of Pherai, a necropolis of the Protogeometric – Geometric period (1otyh – 8th c. BC) with small tholos tombs was excavated, which have yielded a wealth of grave offerings.

6. At Sourpi (Almyros area) they found the western wall of the Greek city Alos and at the Voulokalyva area they found a cemetery from the Geometric period.

7. At Volo’s ring road have been revealed a large tholos from the Mycenaean period.

GRAVE STELAI OF DEMETRIAS (room 5)

DEMETRIAS

[lollum_dropcap]Ι[/lollum_dropcap]n 294 BC the Macedonian army proclaimed Demetrios Poliorcetes as their king and he had under his control the larger part of mainland Greece. In order to administrate more effectively his state, due to the fact that the Macedonian capital, Pella, was far away from Athens, Demetrios founded a new capital, Demetrias.

The grave stelai, the coins and the stamped handles of amphoras which have been found there confirmed the origins of our citizens. They were from distant parts of Greece (Macedonia, Thrace, Epirus, Akarnania) and from areas of the Eastern Mediterranean (Aegean island, Crete, Asia Minor, Middle East, Egypt, Cyrenaica). Until 167 BC, Demetrias was the capital of the Macedonian kings of the Antigonides dynasty, military base, dockyard and also major international commercial port

Demetrias began to contract in the 1st c. BC, but even in the Imperial period was still the capital of the Magnesian Koinon. In the late 3rd – early 4th c. AD. Diocletian dissolved the Thessalian Confederacy and the Magnesian Koinon. Demetrias became the See of Bishopric under Constantine the Great and was gradually abandoned until the end of the 5th c. AD.

Macedonians were the second group of the population on numerical order, after Magnetes, in Demetrias. Most of them were militaries and officials, being in kings’ service.

THE ART OF GRAVE STELAI

[lollum_dropcap]Τ[/lollum_dropcap]he painted grave stelai are original works of Hellenistic painting. Most of them were found built into the walls of Demetrias castle. They were covered with a layer of bricks, which helped to preserve the colors.

The art of painting the grave stelai wasn’t luxury or wealth. It was cheaper and easier than the sculpture. The paint was applied directly on the white marble and the painter started with the details, using black color. After that the painter filled the surface with paint, using a brush. The colors were applied in subdued tones. At last, darker or more vivid colors were applied, to create shadowy and light areas. Our chemical analysis of the colors show us their sources. The colors detected are from Egypt such as blue, black, red, white, ochre etc. The stelai were painted using egg tempera and vegetable pigments were mixed with proteins and oil, in order to make the paint malleable. The dead person is depicted in a range of activities associated with his/her life, like standing or seated, shaking hands with another person, laying on the banquet couch, playing with their weapons, playing with their dog etc. The painting were completed with the addition of decorative elements like a space of a room, rocks, trees, that indicate the environment. There are some stelai that are decorated with two relief rosettes and a painted red band. Below the main representation, mostly on all the stelai, a painted Herm is depicted. The Herm is a pillar topped by the head of the god Hermes, for forgiveness and justice in the Underworld.

GRAVE STELAI THAT HAVE BEEN PRESERVED

[lollum_dropcap]Μ[/lollum_dropcap]ost of the grave stelai have an inscription about the dead person. The inscription includes the name of the dead person, his/her descent and sometimes indicates his/her family situation. In some cases, there are also epigrams referring to the conditions of the death and to the virtues of the dead. Some examples of grave stelai are:

1) ANTIGENES SOTIMO’S SON
“Minos just sent me, Antigenes, to the islands of happy people (Makaron), as I had got fatal wounds on the head and my body was pricked from spears, at the moment that the goddess of war (Enyo) encouraged me during the infantry battle against the Aitolians. My family, the old among Magnetes and my blissful homeland, the town of Demetrias and my mother Soso, didn’t cry for me, the true born son of Sotimo’s. I didn’t go against the enemies having a female soul, but while I was saving the company of adolescents – who know well what I’m talking about -and I was fighting for Zeus (Akraios) and for my arming combative flute and I was defending the memory of Alexander the Great, whose the courage was plenty, I covered with my body the land of Phthiotic Thebes.”

2)ANTIMACHOS (3rd – 2nd c. BC)
“His soul, the one that failed his body, we knew it well. But these bones remained here, as a painful care for his mother and his sister.”

3) APOLLODOROS
“The plant that adorns in relief the stele of Apollodoros occurs on the stelai of Demetrias for first time. His narriw leaves and the round fruits of black colour, look like “thymelaia” (Dioskourides, De Materia Medica, 38) or “polygonon arren” (Dioskourides, De Materia Medica, 121), plants with healing virtues. The depiction of a healing plant in combination with the inscription that refers to the birthplace of the dead (Kalchedon), leads to the hypothesis that the stele probably belonged to a doctor.”

4) GRAVE STELAI OF DOCTORS
On the inscriptions of the three grave stelai from Demetrias, it is reported as birthplace of the deads, Kos and Chalkedon (Kalchedon) of Bithynia, in the Asia Minor, cities that were related with the practise of Medicine. Herofilos from Chalkedon and Erasistratos were the two great doctors of the beginnings of the Hellenistic period. Herofilos born the last fourth of the 4th century BC and worked in the beginnings of the 3rd century BC. He taught the Medicine from Praxagoras from Kos and is considered as the father of Anatomy.

5) HEDISTE (3rd – 2nd c. BC)
“The fates unfolded sorrowful thread from their spindle for Hediste, when newly-wed faced the pains of childbirth. Miserable, because it was not to embrace her child neither to moisten her infant’s lips with her breasts. As soon as the baby saw the light of the sun, the Fortune fell on these two, with cruelty, and drew them in one tomb, both mother and child.”

6) ARCHIDIKE (3rd – 2nd c. BC)
“If you Radamanthes or you Minos, have judged another woman as virtuous, judge also this daughter of Aristomachos. Lead her to the islands of happy people (Makaron), because she was devout and fair. Tylisos, city of Crete, had brought her up and this land surrounds her now. Your fate, Archidike, rated you among the immortals.”

7) JASON (3rd – 2nd c. BC)
Merchants from Phoenicia were activated in Demetrias. Jason, son of Antipatros, came from the city Askalon of Judea, as also did Diokles. Others come from cities of Phoenicia, as Sidon, Tyros, Gaza and Arados. On certain stelai exists bilingual inscription in greek and in phoenician.

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