The Ceramics, Metalwork and Minor Arts Collections comprise more than 10,000 artefacts of various types, which cover all aspects of ancient Greek life, from daily activities and house equipment, entertainment and adornment, to religion and cult practices, beliefs on the afterlife and burial customs.
In these collections are also included glass artefacts, as well as items made of organic materials.
The collection items range from the Neolithic era to the late Roman times and come primarily from excavations within the city of Thessaloniki and its adjacent areas, in Central Macedonia (mostly Chalcidice and Pieria), as well as other sites in Macedonia and Thrace. Other items have been acquired through confiscations and private donations or have been handed in by citizens.
Among the most significant items of these collections are the assemblages from important cemeteries around Thessaloniki, such as the archaic cemetery of Sindos, the classical cemetery of Aineia and the early hellenistic cemetery of Derveni.
The Ceramics Collection comprises all artefacts made of clay, mostly vessels and figurines. The clay vessel collection, in particular, includes items from the prehistoric (Neolithic, Bronze Age, Iron Age) and the historic era (Geometric, Archaic, Classical, Hellenistic and Roman era). Representative examples of the very productive local workshops are present, alongside imported artefacts made in the large production centers of the ancient Greek world (Attica, Corinth, Boeotia, Northeastern Aegean, and Ionia) and rarely from other areas of the Eastern and Western Mediterranean, all testifying to the intense trade taking place in the Aegean and beyond.
The Metalwork Collection includes at least 4,000 metal artefacts and is one of the richest and most important archaeological collection of its kind in the country, due to the flourishing of metalworking in ancient Macedonia.
The Museum hosts the largest collection of gold wreaths of the classical and Hellenistic eras, many of the most elaborate gold and silver jewellery of the same eras, as well as a multitude of bronze jewellery of various periods. The collection of silver and bronze vessels of the A.M.Th. is one of the greatest in Macedonia, with the unique relief Derveni Krater as its most striking item. The Collection also includes representative examples of Macedonian weaponry (leather-covered iron cuirass, bronze helmets, iron swords and daggers, spearheads, bronze shields, lead slingshots etc.) as well as a very large number (approximately 13,000) of coins (gold, silver and bronze) from across Macedonia and the rest of Greece.
Minor Arts Collection
The core of the Minor Arts Collection consists of jewellery made of glass, gems, metal, and bone, of miniature luxury vessels and board games, which have come to light in excavations of cemeteries, public buildings, private houses and villas, and date from the late 6th c. BC to late antiquity.
The manufacture and decoration of most miniature artworks involve the know-how and application of complex techniques, hence demonstrating the high level of aesthetics and opulence of the local societies.
This Collection includes vessels made of glass, coming from the excavation of cemeteries and settlements, and dating from the Archaic era until the Roman times. Among these glass vesselsone can detect various types of shapes and uses, as well as different techniques of constructing glass items, ranging from thecolourful perfume bottles of the Archaic and Classical era to the multi-purpose vessels of blown glass, widely used in Roman times.
Organic Materials Collection
The most important item of this Collection and one of the most valuable exhibits of the Archaeological Museum of Thessaloniki is the Derveni Papyrus, the first Greek entry in the catalogue of the UNESCO program “Memory of the World”. It is the oldest surviving book in Europe, dating between 340 and 320 BC. It was discovered in the cist grave A of the Derveni cemetery in 1962, among the remains of the funeral pyre.
Exceptional is also the gold-woven scarlet cloth found in a female burial, in which were also preserved in a very good condition the hair and eyebrows of the deceased. It was found in 1962 at Thessaloniki’s eastern cemetery and dates to the 3rd c. AD.