- COMMERCIAL AMPHORAS OF THASOS ISLAND (5-4th centuries BC) -

 
 
Watching the Bosphorus,our feet in the water,side-by-side with Canan,she suddenly said,"What matters is seeing,not looking." "Good morning",said I,looking at her face."Keep this stereotype sentence to yourself and tell me with how many eyes you see?" Without removing her eyes from the huge petrol tank in front of us,she said,"With two,of course.Do you have three eyes?" Looking at the moss,horse mackerel and the depths of blue and green,I said "No,I have 3 thousand eyes."Smiling with her pearl-white teeth,she was about to make fun of me saying,"so yours are honeycomb cell",but stopped her.I said,"Please,do not make fun of me.If I saw with 2 eyes,now I would only be seeing the boats,water residences,the opposite shores and the lovers near us,but now I see the fish,the wrecks,paper nautilus,sailing Genoese and Byzantine galleons and also the warships of Barbaros.Moreover,I see Murad the 4th,fishing in this cape,I see the Roman Emperor Hadriyanus passing from here on a cold snowy winter day and writing in his memory the beauties of the Bosphorus."Alas",she said,"he sees everything,but me.As well as he goes back in the history,he also X rays the sea-bottom." Ignoring her mockery,I said "The more we see from the different angles as much as possible,the richer we get." She asked "What different angles?" "Does not being objective depend on where you put the object lens and from which angle you look at the objects and events?",replied I and continued,"Then you will see that there is not a single truth in life.What you think is true can change continously according to time,people,region or point of view." Leaving me,she smiled teasingly and said,"All-knowing men cannot be beared.Let me find myself an ignorant one."
As I study the amphoras,as I see the ancient cities and read about their destiny,I liken them to people.Cities destructed by wars,earthquakes and diseases;cities gulped down by sand,water of earth;cities left remote from policy and trade and thus forgotten;cities disseapered with their sorrows,happiness and loves... It is like touching an amphora.Whenever I touch a stone of such a city,whenever I walk along one of its streets or sit on the steps of its theatre,I feel something strsnge inside and then the city is reconstructed and people come back to life:administres in white cloaks,noble women in lilac pleats,soldiers with sandals, merchants, wanderers, slavesinuns and even the madman of the city.
They continue their daily struggle regardless of me....and I see them,I hear them. Some friends think I only collect amphoras.They do not know that amphoras are just the symbols taking us back in the history.They are the golden keys opening us the doors to the past.Starting to write about Thasos amphoras,I suggest you to look at the history of people as well as the amphoras.
     

     

  Thasos island is important with its affect on Aegean and Black sea amphora forms.As Paris,London,Rome direct the fashion all over the world today,in the ancient era Thasos directed all amphora forms. Thasos is the last island at the north of Aegean.It is very close to Greece.

It is 378 squarekilometres.How does it happen that on such a small island so many types of different and unique amphoras were produced and how could those amphoras affect other regions?Besides these,all Thasos amohoras were techniqually perfect,easy to use and esthetically,they were a work of art.
     
My question above can be answered in 3 parts:
1-Most of the islandeers were seamen and merchants.They established commercial collonies at the Aegean coasts and Anatolian coasts of the Black Sea and they sold their products at those bazaars.
2-The policy was very lively.The island always changed hands among Persians,Athenians and Spartanians.
3-Due to the rich marble quarries,the sculpture developed in the island in the early ages,and thus,it effected the amphora forms. Moreover,Thasos was one of the oldest islands where wines of highest quality were produced.The islandeers were also good at growing vines and olives.In this way,they became very rich.May be some of these amkphoras were used to carry those products of olive and olive oil.Today,we do not know exactly which type of amphoras carried wine,which of them carried olive oil.
 

     

 

In the history,the first information about the island is that around 1100 BC, the Phoenicians collonized it.

They found the first gold mine here, They obtained red fabric from that island.

Then the Paros people started to run the gold and silver mines here and settled down on the island.

Although the city was once famous for its marble city walls, the Persians, who conqured the island in the year 491 BC. broke down those walls.
 

     
After a long period of changing hands,the island took sides with Rome in the Hellenistical age,and thus continued its richness.
     

     
According to the French researchers, who discovered and examined the old amphora furnaces in the island,the amphora production first started in the 5th century BC.In my opinion,the first productions should have started in the 6th century BC. or much before than that. Thasos amphoras were rarely found in the Aegean and Mediterrenean regions.
They were mostly found in the Black sea region.Those amphoras effected many amphora centres,especially the Black sea-Ereğli (Heraklia-Pontike), Amastris-Sinop.We have reason to believe that when the island was conquered,the islandeers emigrated to the Black sea and continued their amphora productions in the same form.
 

     

  Most of the amphoras in my collection reached me from the turbot nets at Russia-Ukraine-Romania-Bulgaria and the Black Sea coasts.This proves that the Thasos people had strong commercial relations with the northern countries.There was a writing or a seal on most of the Thasos amphoras and those amphoras were produced in 30-20-15-12 litres of different volumes and forms. Thasos is one of the cities practicing the sealing system.For the first years,the seals were only the symbols,but then they included the names of producers, administrators or the city.Most of those amphoras you see the photos of are sealed...
 

     
     
     
     
     
     
   

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