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The late prehistoric polities of the Thermaic Gulf: Recent archaeological research at Thessaloniki Toumba and the Anthemous Valley

King's Building, Strand Campus, London

20 Nov
20 Nov GAC
Thessaloniki Toumba and the Anthemous Valley

Annual Greek Archaeological Committee UK (GACUK) lecture by Professor Emeritus Stelios Andreou.

Archaeological research during the last forty years displays a distinctive trajectory of social change in Central Macedonia which contrasts with the palatial urbanization and hierarchy evident in Southern Greece during the Mycenaean period, their collapse and the subsequent radical realignments regarding social complexity during the Early Iron Age. Evidence from the excavation of the Late Bronze and Early Iron Age settlement of Thessaloniki Toumba (tell, or mound) and from the Anthemous Valley Archaeological Project along with information deriving from other recent projects suggests the emergence in Central Macedonia of small-scale, unstable, regional networks of communities. They encompassed several unstable and small sites and a small number of agriculturally prosperous, stable steep-sided mounds, which held a prominent position in the landscape, displayed massive earthworks, elaborate site plans, spacious storage facilities and had access to intricate, imported or locally produced items of material culture. This process became evident in the area during the 14th century BC and was further elaborated during the first centuries of the 1st millennium BC, without significant disruptions. It was accompanied, however, with a substantial reconfiguration of the social structures inside and among communities, with shifts in the loci of power, with the emergence of a new array of social identities and with a considerable enrichment of the material culture.  These innovations coincided with a notable increase in the frequency and the geographical expansion of the patterns of mobility and interaction evident in the material remains at Thessaloniki Toumba and other sites around the Thermaic Gulf. Nevertheless, there are reasons to believe that the new social and cultural settings were also the outcome of long-term, indigenous processes related to population growth, the exploitation of local resources and the power of deeply rooted cultural practices and beliefs. After all, it is gradually becoming more apparent that some of the social and economic structures, which were established in this earlier period, were probably inherently connected to the political formations that developed in Central Macedonia from the Archaic period onwards. 

Stelios Andreou is Professor Emeritus of Prehistoric Archaeology in the Department of Archaeology at the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, where he taught from 1982 until his retirement. He received his first degree in Archaeology from the Aristotle University and his Ph.D. from the University of Cincinnati. His research and academic interests include the Aegean Bronze and Early Iron Ages, the prehistory of Northern Greece, intercultural relations, social archaeology, the archaeology of death, material culture studies focusing on ceramics and metallurgy, landscape archaeology and the archaeology of small-scale societies. After a start with Minoan archaeology, his research focused on the prehistory of Northern Greece. His projects include the Langadas Basin Survey Project, the excavation of Thessaloniki Toumba, which he has directed since 2005 and more recently the Anthemous Valley Archaeological Project. He has also directed or participated in several national and international interdisciplinary research programmes. He serves on the editorial board of international publications on Aegean archaeology and has been appointed to several scientific committees of the Ministry of Culture in Greece.  His publications focus on several aspects of the Neolithic, Bronze Age and Early Iron Age of Northern Greece and the Aegean.

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