The pottery of Messene
The pottery of Messene follows the historical course of the city itself since its establishment in the early 4th c. B.C. down to the Late Roman and Protobyzantine periods. Especially interesting is the pottery of the Hellenistic era, from about 320 B.C. to the time of Augustus, which follows the various styles and the general trends of the period, without loosing though its local characteristics. At the close of the 4th c. B.C. we witness the death of the figural decoration on pottery. In its place monochrome ware appears, either black - or red glazed. The latter are also called Terra Sigillata ware when they carry a stamped or applied decoration; they are devided in western sigillata or Aretine ware (from Arezzo in Italy) and in eastern or Pergamene ware (from Peregamon in Asia Minor) where they appeared from about 150 B.C. to 50 B.C. They continued to be produced in Italy and the East down to the 7th-8th c. A.D. A group of the latter is called African ware because their main area of production was North Africa fabricating vases and utensils of domestic use such as shallow and deep plates and bowls. Also to the category of the monochrome black-glazed ware belong the so-called Megarian bowls, a type of mould made fine ware with relief foral and figural decoration; a group of these bowls are called Homeric because they carry scenes from the Epic (Iliad and Odyssey). The Megarian bowls were being produced from about 250 to 100 B.C. and were very popular. The richly decorated pottery could be devided in two main categories: a) the dark ground painted and b) the light ground painted. In the first category belong the West Slope ware which make their appearance in Attica since the 4th c. B.C. and continue to be made in local workshops down to the 2nd c. B.C. Vases in West Slope type with applied relief decoration (Plakettenvasen) occur mainly in Crete and also in South Italy and Sicily; some specimens have been also found in Messene.
In the category of the light ground painted ware belong: a) the Lagynos Group which appears to the east of the Adriatic sea around 150 B.C. (floral designs in black or brown colour are placed on the white paint of the ground), and b) The Hadra Ware of Alexandria (circa 260-210 B.C.) comprising mainly hydrias with their body covered by white paint (and decorated with polychrome patterns) or with yellow paint (and decorated with dark patterns). These vases were often used as funerary burns in tombs.