The prehistoric settlement of Sesklo is situated near the modern village of the
same name, 15 kilometres to the southwest of Volos. The excavations of
the 20th century (1901-1902, 1956-1977) on Kastraki hill and the surrounding
area have dated the habitation of the area from the Pre-Pottery Neolithic
up to the Late Bronze Age (middle of the 2nd millenium BC). The long habitation
of the area is due to the fertile arable soil, the abundance of water
and the direct access it provided to both the mountains (Pelion) and the
sea of the Gulf of Pagassai. During the Middle Neolithic the settlement
covered Kastraki hill ("citadel" or Sesklo A), and further as well
(Sesklo B and C) accommodating 200-300 inhabitants. The Middle Neolithic
is also called Sesklo culture, since it was here that for the first time
all the different cultural achievements that characterized Thesssaly during
this period were recorded.
The small settlement of the Pre-Pottery Neolithic was limited to the
"citadel" and consisted of subterranean huts with post walls. During
the Early Neolithic it also stretched to the west of the hill (Sesklo
B and C). It consisted of four-sided, one-roomed buildings with stone
foundations and mud-brick walls, built, as in Achilleio,
at a distance from each other. In the free spaces all kinds of economic
and social activities were organised with the neighbouring households,
such as cooking, pottery making etc.
During the Middle Neolithic a denser habitation has been observed both
at the "citadel" and on the gradual slope to the west of it (Sesklo
B or "city"). Rectangular buildings with stone foundations, walls of
mud-bricks and gable or hipped roofs predominated from this period in
the practice of architecture
of the Neolithic. They had usually one room, on the ground floor, while
there are some indications of the existence of a second storey. Their
interior included hearths and constructions for storing goods and sleeping.
The arrangement of the houses at the "citadel" differed from that of
the so-called "city". In the "citadel" they followed a free-standing
arrangement and they were at a short distance from each other, while
in the "city" they were built one next to the other, forming clusters
at some distance one from the other. In both cases though the effort
to ensure as much building space as possible is manifest. In the "citadel"
curvilinear retaining walls were built, that created terraces to receive
the buildings of the west slope.
The characteristic painted
pottery (red on light ground) of the Middle Neolithic was unearthed
at the "citadel" of Sesklo but it was not found in the "city" of Sesklo.
This could be attributed to some economic and social
inequality not typical of the society of the Middle Neolithic, which
though became more evident towards the end of the Neolithic. Around
4400 BC this thriving settlement was destroyed by an earthquake followed
by fire, as was the case with other Thessalian settlements, leaving
behind abandoned ruins for 500 years approximately, among them the ruins
of a pottery workshop. Fire sealed for centuries the finest specimens
of pottery, figurines,
seals and jewellery
of the period.
During the Late Neolithic only the "citadel" of Sesklo was re-inhabited.
At its highest spot a large megaroid house was built with an open porch
and two closed rooms (152 square metres). This building was the most
important of the settlement and was surrounded by stone enclosures -similar
to those of neighbouring Dimini-
around which other houses were built.