Pottering of potters: archaeologist traces migration of ancient Greek potters

Bartłomiej Lis, a Polish archaeologist, discovered that the massive migration of potters from the Greek island of Aegina on the Aegean Sea, took place around the year 1200 BC.

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According to the findings of the scientist, they moved from the island to the shores of the Euboean Gulf and restarted their production.

Potters from Aegina produced their goods in a different way than their competitors from other regions of Ancient Greece. They had a custom of marking their pottery, which may result from the common use of furnaces, but is also a kind of trademark.

“Such observations lead to the identification of the fact that in many places around the Euboean Gulf... there are the same kinds of pottery, but made with the use of different ceramic masses than on Aegina,” Mr Lis said.

Analyses conducted by the Polish archaeologist show that the local potters left Aegina because of problems with reaching markets, as well as because of the threat of political changes.

“The first phase of the migration could have been caused by a problem with selling pottery. This is a period of breakdown in the pottery trade, which probably also affected potters from Aegina,” the archaeologist said.

Another cause of the migration might have been the political-economic changes in that part of Greece. According to the scientist, Aegina, in a period around the year 1200 BC, was not a safe place to live.

Over recent years, scientists have been using modern methods, such as DNA analyses, to trace ancient migrations of peoples.