During our short time at Narthaki working on the Kastro Kallithea archaeological project, it has come to our attention that the Greek people have a particular penchant for two of the “three Rs”: reuse and recycle. In our study of building 10 we have seen the reflection of a culture that places value on materials and gives them new life after their primary use has expired.
The uguentaria, for example, are pieces that the authors, Chelsee and Kristen, worked with on numerous occasions. Uguentaria were used in Thessalian antiquity as vessels for storing perfume, and had very thin necks, large bodies, and thin bases. In Building 10, third-five were found in Unit D alone. Though these vessels are identified in the archaeological record as perfume bottles, analyses from Building 10 suggested that they may have been used as spice holders as well. Thus, we see evidence that something that may have lost its primary use could be reimagined into something with equal use-ability.
Building 10 itself was even reused and given new life after its first building phase had run its course. A second building phase is evidenced in the wall structure that was built over top of an existing basin in the courtyard area. Perhaps the inhabitants realized that the amount of pre-existing space wasn’t necessary and they closed off the southern quadrant of the home. A Hopper-Rubber mill grinding stone was found, and it’s thought to have been converted into a saddle quern. This is not only suggestive of a smaller household (with not as much grain needing to be produced) but also another example of item rejuvenation in Greek antiquity.
From a North American perspective, we’re entrenched in a life of materialism with an attitude of “why have old when you can have brand new?” Our attitude is so different from that of the Greek people, both in antiquity and modernity, and it’s fascinating to be privy to such a different cultural perspective.