History of the Meetings on Hellenistic Pottery

In 1986 a small group of archaeologists decided to undertake the difficult task of studying and categorizing pottery dating in the Hellenistic period. In that effect a Scientific Meeting was held at Ioannina, organized and hosted by two archaeologists of the local University, professors L. Maragou and I. Papapostolou. Participants of that meeting were S. Drougou, K. Gravani, I. Touratsoglou, K. Tsakos, V. Pappa, J. Papadopoulos, A. Giannikouri, V. Patsiada, M. Filimonos, K. Romiopoulou and V. Mitsopoulou-Leon.

As a result of that meeting two things became clear: first the quantity of existing Hellenistic pottery and second the unanswered questions regarding it.

A Permanent Scientific Committee was soon after established to handle forthcoming procedures regarding Hellenistic pottery. This committee was formed by S. Drougou, I. Zervoudaki, L. Maragou, I. Papapostolou and I. Touratsoglou and later included A. Intsesiloglou. The untimely death of I. Zervoudaki in 2008 deprived the committee of a valuable member. In each of the Scientific Meetings held, so far, the Permanent Committee was enlarged with the addition of supervisors and members of the local Ephorates of the Ministry of Culture, whose help and contribution was vital for the achievement of the meetings. The financial support was provided by the Ministry of Culture, by the Universities of Thessaloniki, Ioannina and the Aegean, as well as that of the local municipalities of the cities hosting the event. Their funding was decisive and contributed in the success of the meetings.

The complex character of the Hellenistic period makes the study of the archaeological remains and especially pottery very difficult. To this end, specific goals in the research of Hellenistic pottery were laid by the Scientific Committee. Dating the pottery was essential and because of that, beside the presentation of new findings, the study of well dated contexts of pottery was made a primary target.

During the Meetings apart of the chronological issues, questions regarding workshops, production and usage of Hellenistic pottery were added. Gradually new, more complicated issues arose, such as trade routes and the contribution of local traditions in the production of pottery, issues that still hold the Scientific Committee’s interest, along with the general worry about the future of these meetings.

On the agenda of the later meetings issues like bibliographical update, as well as terminology regarding Hellenistic pottery, were examined, although unexpected –namely economical- difficulties didn’t allow these subjects to be fully studied. To this day they still remain within the Scientific Committees main concerns.

Truth be said the deepest wish for everybody involved in the Scientific Meetings for Hellenistic pottery was not concerning the typology or the general dating of it so much, as the historical knowledge-approach of a very active era through everyday life. Let’s not forget that it is through this humble material, the clay, that a rich world and the “international” character of it is reviled. The project of studying Hellenistic pottery brought in Greece researchers and archaeologists from all over the world. Greeks and foreigners both shared a passion about a civilization that can still be traced as a corner stone of the modern world.

Meanwhile, a group of young scholars, following in our footsteps, has been added to the Meetings bringing us hope that this work will go on, and maybe some unanswered questions will find their answers while new ones will be posed, thus establishing this kind of scientific research in History.