The Early Helladic settlement of Helike

The study of the pottery of the Early Bronze Age settlement at Helike near Aigion, excavated by Dr. D. Katsonopoulou, is one of my most important and most promised projects I have been involved in. It is a rich and impressive ceramic assemblage from a series of overlying building phases expanding chronologically over the Early Helladic II and III periods, in the mid- and late 3rd millennium BC.

The Helike pottery repertoire includes all characteristic shapes of the period, such as an exceptional Troyan-type ‘depas’, rim- and shoulder-handled cups, tankards, pyxides, amphoras, jugs and a big collection of storage jars of various sizes. Most of the table and cooking wares are burnished, but there is a considerable collection of patterned and solidly painted serving vessels.

The jars consist an assemblage of its own particularity, exhibiting standardized manufacture in terms of fabrics and tempering, as well as of formation standards, such as the multiple clay layerings for wall building, the application of extra clay stripes on junctions and the attachment of standardized roped impressions. It is likely that the biggest of these jars have acquired a definite position inside the buildings and may have even been manufactured in situ.

Morphology and distribution of pottery in Helike is varying between different buildings and different phases of the settlement, suggesting that certain areas had changed use through time. Repeated building activity has resulted to considerable corrosion of the older pottery (EH II) which was used as building material inside restored walls and floors, in contrast to the vessels of the surface EH III phase which were left intact after the site’s abandonment.

The Helike pottery is a unique economic and symbolic capital for its population, and an important interpretive tool for modern research to discuss issues of economy, technology, everyday life and social relations within a 3rd-millennium settlement. Data is available to examine how long traditions mix with particular momenta of historicity and events as demonstrated by every particular contextual connotation of so-finds inside any certain building. Such an event-focus approach of Helike would further challenge comparative assessments of the economy, society and ideology between the Early Helladic and the Neolithic prehistory of the greek mainland.


Excavation by the Society of Friends of Ancient Helike in collaboration with the University of Patras, under the direction of Dr. D. Katsonopoulou.

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2011, in print

S. Katsarou, N. Katsonopoulou, I. Iliopoulos, P. Tsolis-Katagas & V. Xanthopoulou, Ceramic technology of houseware and storage pithoi in the Early Helladic settlement of ancient Helike, Achaia, Greece. In: N. Zacharias (ed.), Archaeological Research αnd New Technologies ARCH_RNT. Proceedings of the 2nd Symposium (Kalamata, October 21-23, 2010).


S. Katsarou-Tzeveleki, Morphology and distribution of pottery at the Early Helladic settlement of Helike, Achaia. In: D. Katsonopoulou (ed.), HELIKE IV. Proceedings of the 4th International Conference on Ancient Helike and Aigialeia: The Early Helladic Peloponnesos (Aigion, September 1-3, 2007), pp. 15-16. Athens.


S. Katsarou-Tzeveleki, Morphology and distribution of pottery at the Early Helladic settlement of Helike, Achaia. In: D. Katsonopoulou (ed.), HHELIKE IV. Ancient Helike and Aigialeia: Protohelladika. The Southern and Central Greek Mainland, pp. 89-126. Athens.