The polychrome Neolithic pottery from Ftelia, Mykonos

I am studying a particular assemblage of polychrome ware from the Neolithic settlement at Ftelia, Mykonos, excavated by Prof. A. Sampson: the pottery consists of open dark burnished bowls painted with red and white patterns, however painting has occurred after the pots had been fired. Such technique does not secure permanent application of paint on the hard lustrous surface of the pot which would wear off shortly after.

Apart from its particularity in manufacture, Ftelia polychrome ware is challenging as is immediately associated with broader issues of Neolithic research, such as the symbolic role of ceramics and their decorative patterns within Neolithic society.

There is some contextual evidence from Ftelia supporting this discussion: first polychrome pottery occurs only in one building of the entire settlement; second, inside the same building it is found together with some equally particular ceramic vessels, such as the ‘cheese-pots’ and the ‘rechauds’; further it also coexists with figurines, as well as with copper and gold artefacts.

After that, what may be the particular function of the polychrome bowls compared to the plain vessels, called ‘domestic’ or ‘utilitarian’, and the rest of the idiosyncratic shapes inside the very same building? How soon would polychrome colors wear off from the painted surfaces and is there any possibility they were repainted? Is it likely that post-firing painting was deliberately chosen instead of the conventional pre-firing painting procedure which was most popular within Late Neolithic communities at that time? Is it possible that we are dealing with an eloquent example of the symbolic use of technology?


Excavation of 21st Ephorate of Prehistoric and Classical Antiquities (Cyclades) followed by the University of the Aegean (1994-2005) directed by Prof. A. Sampson.

Read more


Ten Years of Archaeological Research in the University of the Aegean, 2000-2010, Rhodes, November 3, 2010 (Organizer: Department of Mediterranean Studies, University of the Aegean).

Paper: S. Katsarou, The Neolithic settlement of Ftelia, Mykonos.


2nd Conference on Prehistoric Archaeology, Volos, December 4-7, 2008 (Organizers: Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, University of Thessaly, 13th Ephorate of Prehistoric and Classical Antiquities & Archaeological Institute of Thessaly).

Paper: A. Sampson, S. Katsarou-Tzeveleki & V. Mastrogiannopoulou, Space and objects of social and collective symbolisms within the Neolithic settlement of Ftelia, Mykonos.