Polychrome amphora of the Arapi phase (© OREA, photo K.-V. von Eickstedt)

Visviki-Magula, a Neolithic tell settlement in the south-eastern plain of Thessaly near Lake Karla, is one of the excavations that were conducted by Hans Reinerth in his position as the head of the “Reichsamt für Vorgeschichte” (Reich Office of Prehistory), “Sonderkommando Griechenland des Einsatzstabes Reichsleiter Rosenberg 1941” (Special unit for Greece of the Reichsleiter Rosenberg Taskforce 1941). An examination of the biographies of the excavation participants shows that the results of the excavations published in the “Völkischen Beobachter” (People’s Observer) were tarnished by Nazi ideology.

The excavations became widely known due to the discovery of a so-called ‘megaron’, which was dated to the late Neolithic Arapi phase and interpreted as a ‘Nordic’ building type. The study of the plans, however, revealed that the settlement remains on the highest point of the tell cannot be understood as a ‘megaron’, but rather belong to several settlement phases. A clay oven with associated clay walls on stone bases probably date to the Arapi phase, whereas several stone foundations and the base of a round oven probably date to the Dimini phase.

More than 3000 pottery fragments have been preserved from the archaeological material. Pottery from the lowest layers of a section in the north-western part of the Magula point to a late Early Neolithic date for the founding of the settlement. A number of sherds date to the Middle Neolithic and the beginning of the Late Neolithic. A few fragments demonstrate the use of the settlement during the Final Neolithic (Chalcolithic) and the beginning of the Early Bronze Age.

The main part of the decorated and monochrome pottery belongs to the Late Neolithic Arapi and Dimini phases. While the decorated pottery of the Arapi phase has a diverse repertoire of vessel shapes, the painted pottery of the Dimini phase is largely confined to bowls. It is difficult to track the differentiation in an earlier and a later phase postulated in the literature for the Dimini phase. In any case, the occurrence of the brown-on-light painted Dimini ware in the uppermost layers of Visviki-Magula suggests a relatively late appearance of this ware. According to their shape, monochrome pottery of the Arapi phase is often used for eating and drinking. The monochrome pottery of the Dimini phase, however, appears to have been produced much more frequently for cooking and storage.

Petrographic analyses show that Visviki-Magula was part of a network, with connections to the northeast and northwest of the plain of Thessaly. Shapes and decorations of the particularly rich assemblage of Arapi phase polychrome pottery show commonalities with Pevkakia-Magula on the Gulf of Volos, which are not found in the northern plain of Thessaly. A similarly close relationship seems to have existed during the Dimini phase. Other than that, a certain typological and stylistic homogeneity can be recognised from the pottery of the Dimini phase, which extends over the entire distribution area of Dimini pottery.

Finds that inform about the subsistence practices of the settlement are limited to a few animal bones and a manuscript on the plant remains of the Magula. Eighty percent of the chipped stone tools were produced from obsidian from the island of Melos. Their study revealed that the core reduction process did not take place on Visviki-Magula but presumably by specialists in the coastal settlements on the Gulf of Volos. Tool production on-site is mainly confined to the modification of blades and flakes. In contrast, Spondylus shells were processed to make jewellery on Visviki-Magula. This proves that this most valuable trading commodity was not only produced in coastal settlements but also in many household production sites.



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