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Nikolaidou, M. & F. Ifantidis, 2014, Ταξίδια του Νεολιθικού Spondylus: Αρχαιολογικές καταδύσεις στα βαθιά νερά της Αιγαιακής προϊστορίας [The journeys of Neolithic Spondylus: Archaeological diving into the deep waters of Aegean prehistory]. In Εκατό Χρόνια Έρευνας στην Προϊστορική Μακεδονία [A Century of Research in Prehistoric Macedonia] (ed. L. Stefani, N. Merousis & A. Dimoula), Thessaloniki, Archaeological Museum of Thessaloniki.
The shell of the marine mollusc Spondylus gaederopus exerted special fascination in many prehistoric cultures, already since the Palaeolithic. Objects crafted from Spondylus valves feature prominently in the Neolithic of the Aegean, the Balkans, and Central Europe. Recent excavations have demonstrated the principal role played by Northern Aegean communities in the procurement of this valued material, the crafting and circulation of manufactured products on a wide geographical scale. Items of adornment, exchange goods, burial gifts, costume accessories, symbols, tools; Spondylus artefacts emerge as essential elements of neolithic peoples’ identities, bringing together and binding individuals, communities and cultures.
Archaeometric, technical and experimental research on Spondylus finds, and the archaeological study of their fragmentation, recycling, destruction, and deposition, trace the multiple life cycles of this fascinating shell –from its natural existence on the sea bed to its multi-layered cultural consumption. The Spondylus “phenomenon” consists of a “network” of journeys, between nature and culture and among different spheres of prehistoric peoples’ experience. At the same time, ancient Spondylus becomes an excellent starting point and reference for in-depth explorations of neolithic societies. In this paper we chronicle these journeys of archaeological research into the Prehistory of Macedonia.