The Archaeological Museum of Thessaloniki is one of the largest museums in Greece and the central museum of northern Greece. It holds and interprets artifacts from the Prehistoric, Archaic, Classical, Hellenistic and Roman periods, mostly from the city of Thessaloniki but also from the region of Macedonia in general.
The museum is housed in a building designed by architect Patroklos Karantinos and is an example of the modern architectural trends of Greece. Built in 1962, the museum had a new wing added to it in 1980, in which the findings from Vergina were displayed, up until 1997. In 2001 and 2004, in the run-up to the 2004 Athens Olympics, the museum was extensively renovated and its permanent exhibits reorganized.
The central rooms hold exhibits from the archaeological excavations conducted in Thessaloniki and the broader area of Macedonia. The new wing hosts two exhibitions: The Gold of Macedon, with artefacts from the cemeteries of Sindos, Agia Paraskevi, Nea Filadelfia, Makrygialos, Derveni, Lete, Serres, and Evropos; and The Thessaloniki Area in Prehistory, with material from prehistoric settlements, dating from the Neolithic to the Early and Late Bronze Age.
At present, the collection of Archaic to Late Roman sculptures from Thessaloniki and Macedonia in general is displayed in the central section of the museum. They illustrate the history of Thessaloniki from prehistoric times to Late Antiquity. These rooms display architectural members from an Ionic temple of the 6th century BC, sculptures of all periods from Macedonia, exhibits from the excavations in the palace complex built by Galerius in the Thessaloniki city centre, a reconstruction of the façade of the Macedonian tomb in Agia Paraskevi, with genuine architectural members, and finds (mainly gold artefacts) of the Archaic and Classical periods from the Sindos cemetery. In all these rooms, certain important exhibits have been singled out and further information about them is given to help visitors appreciate the importance of each exhibit and of the area and the period from which it comes.
Apart from its permanent displays, the Archaeological Museum also hosts major temporary and thematic exhibitions.
In the new wing, the Gold of Macedon exhibition includes finds from numerous excavations in Central Macedonia. Taking the history of gold as its central theme, it presents the culture of Macedonia from the 6th century BC to 148 BC, discussing the use of gold (jewellery, sartorial decoration, gilding of objects and vessels, coins), the technology of the manufacture of gold jewellery, and the techniques of gold mining. There are also numerous finds from cemeteries, and their role in burial customs is described.
The Thessaloniki in Prehistory exhibition aims to recreate a picture of the Thermaic Gulf littoral before the city of Thessaloniki was built. It presents the first excavations, which were carried out during the First World War by British and French troops, and finds from the most important prehistoric settlements in the area (Thermi, Vassilika, Stavroupoli, Oraiokastro, Assiros, Toumba, and Kastana) divided into three chronological groups (Neolithic, and Early and Late Bronze Age).References:
Heraclea Lyncestis was an ancient Greek city in Macedon, ruled later by the Romans. It was founded by Philip II of Macedon in the middle of the 4th century BC. The city was named in honor of the mythological hero Heracles. The name Lynkestis originates from the name of the ancient kingdom, conquered by Philip, where the city was built.
Heraclea was a strategically important town during the Hellenistic period, as it was at the edge of Macedon"s border with Epirus to the west and Paeonia to the north, until the middle of the 2nd century BC, when the Romans conquered Macedon and destroyed its political power. The main Roman road in the area, Via Egnatia went through Heraclea, and Heraclea was an important stop. The prosperity of the city was maintained mainly due to this road.
The Roman emperor Hadrian built a theatre in the center of the town, on a hill, when many buildings in the Roman province of Macedonia were being restored. It began being used during the reign of Antoninus Pius. Inside the theatre there were three animal cages and in the western part a tunnel. The theatre went out of use during the late 4th century AD, when gladiator fights in the Roman Empire were banned, due to the spread of Christianity, the formulation of the Eastern Roman Empire, and the abandonment of, what was then perceived as, pagan rituals and entertainment.
In the early Byzantine period (4th to 6th centuries AD) Heraclea was an important episcopal centre. A small and a great basilica, the bishop"s residence, and a funerary basilica and the necropolis are some of the remains of this period. Three naves in the Great Basilica are covered with mosaics of very rich floral and figurative iconography; these well preserved mosaics are often regarded as fine examples of the early Christian art period.
The city was sacked by Ostrogoth/Visigoth forces, commanded by Theodoric the Great in 472 AD and again in 479 AD. It was restored in the late 5th and early 6th century. When an earthquake struck in 518 AD, the inhabitants of Heraclea gradually abandoned the city. Subsequently, at the eve of the 7th century, the Dragovites, a Slavic tribe pushed down from the north by the Avars, settled in the area. The last coin issue dates from ca. 585, which suggests that the city was finally captured by the Slavs. As result, in place of the deserted city theatre several huts were built.
The Episcopacy Residence was excavated between 1970 and 1975. The western part was discovered first and the southern side is near the town wall. The luxury rooms are located in the eastern part. The 2nd, 3rd and 4th rooms all have mosaic floors. Between the 3rd and 4th rooms there is a hole that led to the eastern entrance of the residence. The hole was purposefully created between the 4th and 6th century.