The artefacts of this collection (more than 10,000 items) mostly come from cemeteries (Derveni, Sindos, Aineia, Akanthos, eastern and western cemetery of Thessaloniki etc.) and to a lesser amount from settlements (e.g. Olynthus).
They vary, not just because of their material (stone, metal, glass) but also in terms of the needs they covered and the uses they had. Associated with daily life (utility vessels, tools, jewellery etc.), or with more violent aspects of life (offensive and defensive weapons), with religious beliefs and cult practices (votive offerings, cult statues, ritual vessels, architectural members of temples etc.), with death and the afterlife (stone sarcophagi, funerary reliefs and stelae, burial offerings etc.), with public life and governance (portraits of rulers, honorary inscriptions, decrees etc.), with trade and finance (coins, deeds etc.) the artefacts of the Collection of Metalworking, Stoneworking and Miniature art, - like thousands of little pieces of a jigsaw puzzle - allow us to reconstruct an image of a very distant, yet also age-old reality, from the prehistoric to the Roman times.
This collection comprises approximately 4,500 items/monuments. Apart from a significant number of prehistoric items, the vast majority of its artefacts dates from the late 6th c. BC to the early Christian era. These lithic artefacts belong mostly to local workshops, as well as to Athenian ones, while many are imports from Attica or other artistic workshops of northern Greece.
The collection includes statues and votive reliefs from sanctuaries within the city and its adjacent areas, portraits of emperors associated with the Imperial cult in Roman times, parts of the scuplted decorations of the Palatial Complex of Galerius, as well as a significant group of private portrait busts and funerary reliefs that testify for the grandeur of local society.
The Museum's epigraphic collection is also rich, part of which has already been published in the Inscriptiones Greacae series.
The "Rhaidestos Collection" is of great interest. Compiled by the Thracian Educational Society (founded in 1871) it includes antiquities from various places across Thrace, which were transferred to Thessaloniki in 1922 as heirlooms by the refugees from Eastern Thrace.
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.