Largest pottery workshop of Greek antiquity found

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German archeologists have discovered the largest industrial quarter of the Greek world, during an excavation in Sicily.

Largest pottery workshop of Greek antiquity found
At the excavation in Selinunte, a kiln was uncovered that displays a well 
preserved firing platform [Credit: Martin Bentz]

Streching for more than 3,200 feet, the craft district relied on about 80 kilns for the production of ceramics.

“The largest one is 17 feet in diameter, making it the biggest kiln ever found in a Greek city,” Martin Bentz, an archeologist at the University of Bonn, told Discovery News.

The finding was made in the periphery of Selinunte, on the southwest coast of Sicily.

The farthest west of the Greek colonies, known for its grand temples, Selinunte enjoyed centuries of prosperity before being reduced to rubble by the Carthaginians during the first Punic War.

Located along the river Cottone, now silted up, the industrial quarter operated inside the city walls.

“It was separated from the rest of the city by an non-built-up area so to protect the inhabitants from fire danger, smell and noise,” Bentz said.

Bentz’s team made long trenches to reach the end of the workshop and noticed it’s one big homogeneous construction built on four terraces on the slopes of the city hill.

The industrial quarter featured a central courtyard for drying the products before firing, two large working and firing areas and, at the end toward the city, a shop to sell the products.

“The whole construction is more than 3,900 square feet, by far the largest workshop we know in the Greek world,” Bentz said.

The quarter and the workshop were founded around 550 B.C. At that time, the production focused on small artistic terracotta statuettes.

Around the middle of the 5th century B.C., the new huge structure was built, beginning a mass production of roof tiles and vases of every kind.

The workshop was destroyed when the Carthagians conquered Selinus, as the Greeks called it, in 409 B.C.

“We have a thick ash layer which covered the structures and which can be well dated by coins,” Bentz said.

Begun four years ago, the excavation is scheduled to continue until 2016 at least.

Author: Rossella Lorenzi | Source: Discovery News [October 15, 2014]

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