Salonica at the British Museum and the British Museum in Thessaloniki
|Bronze helmet of the “Chalkidian” type excavated from Mikro Bay Cemetery [Credit: © The Trustees of the British Museum Department: Greek & Roman Antiquities]|
The Greek Ephors (G. Economides and E. Pelekides) inspect the progress of the excavations. At first, the material was supposed to be consigned to the Greek State. Later on it was suggested that part of the finds should be granted to the excavators. Finally, in January 1919, after an alleged offer by the Greek Government, the antiquities get packed and shipped to London “collected by the British Salonica Force and presented by them with the sanction of the Greek Government” (source: The British Museum). Part of it ends up to Scotland, as well as in the Louvre and a small number of objects remain in Thessaloniki.
The material comes from excavated sites in the wider region of Thessaloniki, most of them known and noted already before WWI (Chauchitza, Kalamaria, Galliko, Sedes, Langavuk, Zangliveri, Baltza, Gnoina, Sarach, Yenikeui, Platanaki and more). In addition to a number of objects outreaching two hundreds, there are about two thousand sherds. The diversity is vast, while dating varies from prehistoric to Roman and Byzantine. Fragmented pieces of sculpture, vessels, lamps, tools and implements, weaponry, jewellery (rings, armlets, necklaces, beads, pins, fibulae) are part of the collection.
|Globular pottery cup with a flat base and a round loop handle; the rim is broken. Signs of burning inside, so probably used as a lamp [Credit: © The Trustees of the British Museum Department: Greek & Roman Antiquities]|
Apart from these impressive finds, the Macedonian material includes important information for the researcher of Greek antiquity. The ample number of pottery sherds could be studied as a database on Macedonian wares. Most of them appear to consist of the local, micaceous clay and they follow the regional development of ceramic technique and style, extending chronologically from Neolithic to Mycenean, Geometric, Archaic and Classical Greek.
|Roman era sepulchral stele excavated from Mikro Bay Cemetery [Credit: © The Trustees of the British Museum Department: Greek & Roman Antiquities]|
After a fruitful contact between the BM and the Archaeological Museum of Thessaloniki it is more than possible that selected items from the British Salonica Force material will be brought back to Greece on a pertinent loan after almost one century.
- Casson, S. 1920/1921. Excavations in Macedonia, The Annual of the British school at Athens 24, 1-33.
- Dakin, D. 1972. The Unification of Greece 1770-1923, Ernest Benn Limited, London.
- Picard, Ch., E.A. Gardner, F.N. Pryce, W. Cooksey, A.M. Woodward, S. Casson, F.B Welch and Marcus N. Tod. 1918/1919. Macedonia. The Annual of the British school at Athens 23, 1-103.
- Wace, A.J.B. 1913/1914. The Mounds of Macedonia, The Annual of the British school at Athens 20, 123-132.
- Vokotopoulou, I. 1986. Τα Πρώτα 50 Χρόνια της Εφορείας Κλασσικών Αρχαιοτήτων Θεσσαλονίκης. In Actes de Colloque “Thessalonique apres 1912”, Thessalonique 1-3 Novembre 1985, Municipalite de Thessalonique centre d’ etudes historiques de la ville editions hors-serie no 2, 1-67.
- Related article: Εκατό αρχαίοι θησαυροί, Ethnos News [January 12, 2012]
Author: Aikaterini Kanatselou | The Archaeology News Network [January 22, 2012]