The museum collection comprises more than 10,000 artefacts of various types, as they cover all aspects of ancient Greek life, from daily activities and house equipment, entertainment and cosmetics, to religion and cult practices, beliefs on the afterlife and burial customs. This specific Collection includes glass artefacts, as well as any items of organic material kept at the Museum. Among the significant collection items 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.
It includes all clay artefacts, mostly vessels and figurines. The collection items range from the Neolithic era to the late Roman times and come from: a) excavations within the city of Thessaloniki and its adjacent areas, Central Macedonia (mostly Chalkidice), as well as other sites in Macedonia and Thraces, b) from confiscations, private donations or artefacts handed in by individuals.
The clay vessel collection includes items from the prehistoric (Neolithic, Bronze Age, Iron Age) and the historic era (Geometric, Archaic, Classical, Hellenistic and Roman era). Examples of very productive local workshops are present, alongside artefacts imported by large production centres from all over the Greek world (Attica, Corinth, Boeotia, northeastern Aegean, Ionia) and rarely from other areas of the eastern and western Mediterranean, which testify for the intense trade taking place in the Aegean and beyond.
It consists of parts of wall-paintings from built tombs (cist-graves or Macedonian tombs) excavated near Derveni (ancient Lete) and Nea Michaniona (ancient Aineia) dating to the 4th and 3rd c. BC. Of particular interest is a painted built cist-grave from Aineia which is on display in its entirety at the Museum. Also important are the parts of Roman wall-paintings from the Palatial Complex of Galerius and other buildings of Roman Thessaloniki.
The mosaics come mostly from floors discovered during excavations within the city of Thessaloniki, where urban private houses were found as well as lavish public buildings. They often include multi-figured mythological scenes, though they can also have purely decorative designs of geometric or floral patterns. Allegorical and symbolic scenes are also common. The collection includes unique compositions, such as the mythical wedding of Dionysus to Ariadne (3rd c. AD) from a triclinium of a rich house, displayed at a prominent location in the Museum's permanent exhibition. The collection's mosaics range chronologically from teh 2nd to the 4th c. AD, a prosperous era of Roman Thessaloniki.
This collection includes vessels made of glass, from the excavation of cemeteries and settlements from the Archaic era until the Roman times. Among those glass vessels various and different techniques of constructing glass items are present, as well as their various uses, from colourful perfume bottles of the archaic and classical era to the multi-purpose vessels of blown glass, used in Roman times.
Organic materials collection
The most important item of this category and one of the most valuable exhibits of the Archaeological Museum of Thessaloniki is the Derveni Papyrus. It is the oldest surviving book in Europe, dating between 340 BC and 320 BC. It was discovered in the cist grave A of the Derveni cemetery in 1962, among the remains of the funeral pyre.
Also valuable is gold-woven scarlet cloth found within a female burial. Also preserved were the hair and eyebrows of the deceased. It was found in 1962 at the city's eastern cemetery and dates to the 3rd c. AD.