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Technology and history of storage vessels through the ages

Mimika Giannopoulou


This major study of pithoi storage vessels has two aims: To present in detail the technology of making storage vases without the use of a potter’s wheel, as this survived in the area of the Gulf of Messenia (SW Greece), and to compare it with other techniques which have been used to make storage vases over time. Data from original fieldwork by the author on the subject of storage vases are presented also from Crete, Chios and SAhnos. The other aim is to present the technology and dating of the sherds coming from storage vases found in ancient Messene. To facilitate an understanding of the subject, the author gives an historical retrospection on the presence and use of storage vases in different periods, through citing indicative examples. The analyticalpresentation of the technology of storage vases starts from the types of workshops, the kinds of clays, the techniques of extracting, processing and preparing the raw materials, the different techniques of making, decorating and firing the vases. The study focuses on the presence of non-plastic materials (temper) as integral elements of the technology of large storage vases. The study then goes on to present, date and comment on the technology or the material from ancient Messene, as well as material from other regions of Greece for which there is technological commentary. This is followed by the presentation of the results of research in the Gulf of Messenia, which focuses on the manmade and the natural environment, the technology of making the vases and the ways in which they are distributed. The resultant data, in combination with the presentation of the techniques, sketch all the facets of the climax and decline of vase making activity, while the technological choices and the differentiations in the storage vases in the specific place and time are evaluated and interpreted.