Sesklo

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Sesklo
Σέσκλο
Pottery woman torso neolothic, NAMA Nama830.jpg
Sesklo is located in Greece
Sesklo
Sesklo
Coordinates: 39°21.3′N 22°50.1′E / 39.3550°N 22.8350°E / 39.3550; 22.8350Coordinates: 39°21.3′N 22°50.1′E / 39.3550°N 22.8350°E / 39.3550; 22.8350
Country Greece
Administrative region Thessaly
Regional unit Magnesia
Municipality Volos
Municipal unit Aisonia
Elevation 200 m (700 ft)
Community
 • Population 906
Time zone EET (UTC+2)
 • Summer (DST) EEST (UTC+3)
Postal code 385 00
Area code(s) 24210

Sesklo (Greek: Σέσκλο) is a village near the city of Volos, in Thessaly (central Greece), in the regional unit of Magnesia. It is part of the municipal unit Aisonia. Nearby, a Neolithic settlement was discovered at the end of the 19th century and the first excavations were made by Greek archaeologist, Christos Tsountas.

The Neolithic settlement was covering an area of about 200,000 m2 in its peak period around 5000 BC and comprised about 500 - 800 houses with a population of perhaps up to 5,000 people.[2][3]

Sesklo culture[edit]

Map showing territorial extent of the Dimini culture in teal ca. 4500-4000 BCE. The "invasion theory" states that the Sesklo culture lasted more than one full millennium up until 5000 BC when it was violently conquered by people of the Dimini culture.
Findings from Sesklo circa 5300 BC, National Archaeological Museum, Athens

This settlement gives its name to the first Neolithic culture of Europe, which inhabited Thessaly and parts of Macedonia (Greece). The oldest fragments researched at Sesklo place the civilization's development as far back as 6850 BC with a +/- 660 year margin of error. The first settlements, which predate the 6th millennium BCE, are known as proto-Sesklo (main group) and pre-Sesklo (secondary groups with differentiated characteristics) and they show an advanced agriculture and a very early use of pottery that rivals in age those of the Near East.

The peoples of Sesklo built their villages on hillsides near fertile valleys, where they grew wheat and barley, also keeping herds of mainly sheep and goats, though they also had cows, pigs and dogs. Their houses were small, with one or two rooms, built of wood or mudbrick in the early period. Later the construction technique becomes more homogeneous and all homes are built of adobe with stone foundations. In the 6th millennium BCE, the first houses with two levels are found and there is also a clear intentional urbanism.

The lower levels of proto-Sesklo lack pottery, but the Sesklo people soon developed very fine glazed earthenware (cups and bowls) that they decorated with geometric paintings in red or brown colours. In the Sesklo period new types of ware are incorporated. At the end of the period the decoration evolves to flame motifs. Pottery of this 'classic' Sesklo style was also used in Western Macedonia as at Servia.

When investigating whether these settlers could be migrants from Asia Minor, there are many similarities between the rare Asia Minor pottery and Greek Early Neolithic pottery, but these similarities seem to exist between all early pottery from Near Eastern regions. The repertoire of shapes is not very different, but the Asia Minor vessels seem to be deeper than their Thessalian counterparts. Shallow, slightly open bowls are characteristic of the Sesklo culture and absent in Anatolian settlements. The ring base was almost unknown in Anatolia, whereas flat and plano-convex bases were common there. Altogether, the appearance of the vessels is different. The earliest figurines' appearance is also completely different.

The very rare pottery from levels XII and XI at Çatal Hüyük closely resembles in shape the very coarse ware of Early Neolithic I from Sesklo, but the paste is quite different, having a partly vegetable temper. This pottery is contemporaneous with the better made ware and not a predecessor of the Thessalian material. On the whole, the artifactual data argues in favour of a largely independent indigenous development of the Greek Neolithic settlements.

Available data also indicates that the domestication of cattle occurred at Argissa as early as 6300 BC during the Pre-Pottery Neolithic.[4] The non-pottery bearing levels at Sesklo contained bone fragments of domesticated cattle too. The earliest occurrence reported in the Near East is at Çatal Hüyük, in stratum VI, dating around 5750 BC, though it may have been present in stratum XII too - somewhere around 6100 BC. This indicates that the domestication of cattle was indigenous on the Greek mainland.

One significant characteristic of this culture is the abundance of statuettes of women, often pregnant, probably connected to the widely hypothesized prehistoric fertility cult. Whatever the case, these abundant sculptures are present in all the Balkanic and most of the Danubian Neolithic complex form many millennia, though they cannot be considered exclusive to this area. Marija Gimbutas even mentions a gorgon mask from the Sesklo culture.[5]

The Sesklo culture is crucial in the expansion of the Neolithic into Europe. Dating and research points to this Sesklo's influence on other Balkanic (Karanovo I-II and Starčevo-Körös) cultures which seem to originate here, and who in turn gave rise to the important Danubian Neolithic current. Also, it is thought[citation needed] that the separate pre-Sesklo settlements can be, at least partly, responsible for the origin of the Mediterranean Neolithic (Cardium pottery). So it can be said that, with some geographically isolated exceptions, the European Neolithic seems to originate in and around Sesklo[citation needed].

The "invasion theory" states that the Sesklo culture lasted more than one full millennium up until 5000 BC when it was violently conquered by people of the Dimini culture. The Dimini culture in this theory is considered different from that found at Sesklo. However, Professor Ioannis Lyritzis provides a different story pertaining to the final fate of the "Seskloans". He, along with R. Galloway, compared ceramic materials from both Sesklo and Dimini utilizing thermoluminescence dating methods. He discovered that the inhabitants of the settlement in Dimini appeared around 4800 BC, four centuries before the fall of the Sesklo civilization (ca. 4400 BC). Lyritzis concluded that the "Seskloans" and "Diminians" coexisted for a period of time.

Historical population[edit]

Year Population
1981 781
1991 857
2001 906

Notes[edit]

References[edit]

External links[edit]