Content on this page requires a newer version of Adobe Flash Player.

Get Adobe Flash player

Figurines of Neolithic Thessaly - Volume ΙΙ



The precious and abundant material of this volume includes 407 figurines, of which 119 are classified as Heads and 288 as Bodies, including 11 items representing only parts of human body, as for instance a leg, a nose or a foot. It is presented (as in the first volume) with emphasis to its modelling and form. As it consists in casual surface finds, stratigraphical evidence is completely non - existent. Almost all are made of clay or stone (including marble).

The clay used comes from different sites in the area, resulting in a considerable range of colours from white to yellow and red, including a number of intermediate hues. A simple treatment of the clay is indicated by inclusions of stone particles, sand or plant remains. Non-plastics (inorganic tempers) were added to this clay in order to prevent the cracking of the objects when dried and fired. It is difficult to tell with certainty whether these tempers (especially sand) occurred naturally in the clays or were added by figurine makers.

Surface treatment, including decoration, is the final stage in the finishing of a ceramic artifact before firing. Though a great number of figurines were left rough, a considerable proportion were either burnished with a hard, blunt tool or (more frequently) polished with a soft yielding tool, such as apiece of leather, a handful of fleece or even a finger. A sharp colour contrast between the surface and the biscuit, often seen on figurines, may be due to the application of a slip or to mineral pigments (paint) or even to salts in the clay which rise and coat the surface during drying and firing, producing a creamy or white deposit.

Most of clay figurines were modelled around one or many clay or perishable cores, fired and then given incised, impressed, painted or applied human features.

Stone figurines are considerably fewer than clay ones. They seem to have existed though as early as Early Neolithic, but they have been more intensively produced during the final phases of the period.

Whatever the material, surface decoration seems to be purely optional, since it is not related to any particular form or function and does not consistently render the same features or patterns. In clay figurines it follows the techniques used in pottery.

Thessalian figurines display an enormous variety of forms and modelling features (which in some cases are unique) and it is difficult to distinguish clearly definable categories, therefore to establish a definite typology.

Yet, in the course of my long time research on Neolithic figurines in the Research Centre of Antiquity of the Academy of Athens, I have tried to make a practical typological grouping of Thessalian material, in the scope of facilitating my study and further presentation. This grouping is visible in the first volume. However, the material of the second volume, according to its state of preservation (broken, damaged, spare parts), forced me to create some additional categories of figurines which otherwise would not exist since they would have been incorporated in the already existing larger ones.

The second volume has the same classification and order of presentation as the first one. So, as one can easily notice, figurines are again classified into two main parts, Heads and Bodies, each part distinguished in representational (naturalistic) or stylized, according to its prevailing features. Figurines included in this second volume are inserted in the above mentioned typological categories and have quite clearly recognizable subdivisions.

Heads have various forms. The number of stylized ones is quite great, probably since the hard stones they are usually made of are better preserved than any other perishable material.

The second part includes male or female bodies and parts of them. They are principally classified as male or female and subdivisions may depend on arm posture and the rendering of chest. Stylized figurines present a variety of forms, which I tried to group in larger categories, often according to the form of their base.

Figurines in this volume bear a serial number, followed by their file catalogue number in the Archives of the Research Centre for Antiquity of the Academy of Athens (ORF), as well as by their inventory number of the Archaeological Museum of Larissa. The inventory number of the Museum comprises the Greek letters MΛ (i.e. Museum of Larissa No) followed by the first two Greek letters of the name of the collection to which each item belonged **. Next comes the name of the site where they were found. Information about their provenance was furnished by collectors. Whenever collectors were not sure about the exact Thessalian find spot, I classify the specimen as of unknown provenance. For many sites of the Eastern Thessalian plain the name of its location is followed by a site number (ATAE), according to Gallis 1992 (ATAE stands for the initials in Greek of the words Inventory Number of the Topographical Archives of the Ephorate of Antiquities of Larisa). Some of the sites in the Western Thessalian plain are also identified in the same way.

Measurements are maximal, in centimetres, H height, W width and T thickness. The measurements are followed by a definition of colour according to Munsell Soil Colour Charts and a full description of each item.

** ΘΕ for Theodoropoulos, ΚΡ for Karamanolis, ΤΛ for Tloupas, XO for Chouliaras.

Preface | Introduction | Images