The red painted Middle Neolithic vases from the Cave of Cyclops in the northern Sporades

The Neolithic pottery we have been studying from Koutroulou Magoula has the advantage of offering very precise contextual correlation to the spatial use of the Neolithic mound, which was not something possible to secure in earlier excavations of similar sites in Thessaly. Pottery at Koutroulou has been acquired from the interior areas, though they come mainly from the outdoor area of Neolithic houses; the pattern of deposition has proven to be different between the two. In terms of shapes, vessel types mainly include cups, bowls and basins, alongside cooking pots, collared jars, spouted pots and offering tables. The vases are decorated with applied features, but mainly by color variation achieved by the manner in which pots are placed in the firing pit, the relationship to the firing material and the rest of the ceramic load. Decorative variations are also produced through a range of surface treatments including polishing and the application of painted patterns.

The range of colors that finally circulate in the site suggests that the stylistic classification established from morphological standards is tremendously weak. Even given that research into this variation has been ongoing for almost a century, it is still not possible to express the full range of pottery used in the village. The taxonomic approach adopted does not allow for the fact that the technical achievements are not random, but rather deliberate and these must be reviewed within the context of social dialogue, competition and relations within and between the members of the Neolithic community. Finally, the burial of refuse from the fragmented vessels around the buildings signifies the value of the old pots as memories and histories to be deposited for the growth of the mound.


Research project conducted by the Ministry of Culture and the British School at Athens, under the direction by Dr. N. Kyparissi-Apostolika and Prof. Y. Hamilakis.

The material is studied in collaboration with A. Kaznesi.