Alexandros LAFTSIDIS

“Glocalization” in the Hellenistic Period: Realizing Socio-Εconomic Complexities Through the Evidence of Pottery Production and Consumption

  • Supervisor: Prof. Athena Tsingarida
  • Research center: CReA-Patrimoine
  • Research start date: 01.09.2021


Pottery has often been described as our most reliable guide to trace and try to understand people of past times. Its omnipresent character in every archaeological site and the multitude of different ceramic forms – undergoing development through time – render pottery one of the most useful tools in the hands of any researcher of the past. Therefore, despite their modest character ceramic artifacts can provide us with a great amount of information concerning various economic, social, and – sometimes even – religious topics of the ancient world. This is particularly true for the Hellenistic period (ca. 323-31 B.C.), during which the pottery employed across the immense Hellenistic world – first formed through the campaigns of Alexander the Great – reflects a lot of commonalities, suggesting shared cultural consumption practices. This phenomenon is described by the term Hellenistic ceramic “koine”, which mostly stands for a shared suite of pottery shapes and types of decoration throughout the Hellenistic world. But, on the other hand, many local ceramic variations can be observed, seemingly in opposition to the notion of a common ceramic “language”, which point towards social, economic, and religious particularities.

This project addresses the phenomenon of extensive similarities but also local divergences in terms of the ceramic record (in particular, fine ware pottery) in the Hellenistic world, for which purpose the term “glocalization” is employed. Stemming from my previous research on the Hellenistic ceramic “koine” (used by analogy to the Hellenistic “koine” (=common) language) and the compilation of an extensive database of a very large volume of published vases (<12,000) from over 100 sites throughout Greece, a clear definition of the phenomenon will be provided. This is an important contribution since the term has been used so far in the bibliography in a vague and inconsistent way. The representative value of the study will be further accentuated by the inclusion of published and unpublished pottery material from areas, such as Maroneia in Thrace and selected sites in the lower Balkans. It is not, however, the ceramic “koine” per se that matters, but its ability to act as a proxy for human behavior. In particular, the ubiquitous character of pottery and its use in important social arenas, such as the symposium/feasting, funerary and cultural practices and rites, allow the extrapolation of regional and supra-regional identities, that in their turn might convey cultural, social and political implications. To that end, great focus is placed on the aforementioned local ceramic particularities; the degree of the participation of different regions into the ceramic “koine” is placed under the microscope as it can reveal how their ancient populations could often choose to selectively reject part of this common ceramic “package” to better meet their own distinct cultural and social needs. In other words, local ceramic peculiarities often signaled diversified responses to similar social and economic concerns. For such instances, the term regional ceramic “dialects” is introduced. Regarding in particular, non-Greek populations situated outside the traditional sphere of influence of mainland Greece, this approach can more clearly address difficult to reach questions, such as those on identity, agency, and appropriation of exogenous cultural forms. The project will lead to a monograph that will address a wider audience interested in the concepts of consumption, agency, identity, and cultural appropriation in the ancient world.


I am a classicist with a specialization in archaeology of the Classical and Hellenistic periods. I received my B.A. and M.A. from the Department of History and Archaeology in Thessaloniki, Greece. I received my second M.A. and Ph.D from the Department of Classics in the University of Cincinnati. I worked as a Visiting Assistant Professor at the Department of Classics of Xavier University and as an Adjunct Professor at the Department of History and Archaeology in the University of Cyprus. I am currently a Marie-Curie post-doctoral researcher at CReA-Partimoine Research Center at ULB. Classes taught by me in the past include among others "Introduction to the Greek Civilization", "Greek Archaeology," "Introduction to the Roman Civilization", "Daily Life in Ancient Greece, "Sculpture of the Archaic and Classical Periods," "World Mythology," ancient Greek and Latin. Next to my teaching activity, I have been involved in various excavations in Greece, including the sites of Pella, Agora, Vergina, Archontiko Pellas, Pentavrysos in Kastoria, Toumpa Paionias, and Thermi in Thessaloniki. In particular, my archaeological interests include pottery and technology of the Classical and Hellenistic periods. I have studied and published pottery of the Classical and Hellenistic periods from Pella Agora, Karystos, Euboea, and Maroneia, while I am currently responsible for the study and publication of pottery assemblages from Samothrace, Maroneia, Kea, and Itanos, Crete.



2021:  “Hellenistic Table Ware from Maroneia: The Example of the G. Frantzidis Lot” in 10th International Scientific Meeting on Hellenistic Pottery (forthcoming)

2021:  “The Imitation Game: The Continuing Effects of Attic Pottery in the Hellenistic Times” in Manufacturers and Markets: The Contributions of Hellenistic Pottery to Economies Large and Small, 4th Conference of the International Association for the Research on Pottery of the Hellenistic Period e.v., November 11-14, 2019, Athens, Greece (forthcoming)

2021:  “New Data on Southern Euboean Landscapes: Results of the Norwegian Archaeological Survey in the Karystia,” [with Zarko Tankosić, Aikaterini Psoma, Rebecca M. Seifried, and Apostolos Garyfallopoulos], BSA 116 (2021), pp. 1-33

2020:  “Setting a Common Table for the Hellenistic World?: Revisiting the Hellenistic Ceramic “Koine”” in Exploring the Neighborhood: The Role of Ceramics in Understanding Place in the Hellenistic World, Proceedings of the 3rd Conference of IARPotHP, Kaštela, June 2017, 1st – 4th, pp. 39-59

2019:  “The Hellenistic “koine” as a Linguistic and Ceramic Concept,” Journal of Greek Archaeology 4 (2019), pp. 204-228

2019:  “Drinking in the Hellenistic Times: Standardization and Local Variation,” in ΤΩΙ ΔΙΔΑΣΚΑΛΩΙ. Volume in honor of Professor I. M. Akamatis, N. Akamatis, A. Vouvoulis, A. Laftsidis, and N. Poulakakis, eds., pp. 225-237

2019:  “Athenian Influences in the kerameikos of Pella: Evidence from a deposit east of the Agora,” in Daily Life in a Cosmopolitan World: Pottery and Culture During the Hellenistic Period, 2nd Conference of the International Association for the Research on Pottery of the Hellenistic Period e.v., Lyon, 5-8 November 2015, pp. 201-212

2011:  “Pella-Agora: Six Pits in the South Road,” [with Alexandros Vouvoulis] ΕΓΝΑΤΙΑ 15 (2011), pp. 167-207

2008:  “Ceramic Kiln of Pentavrysos in Kastoria,” ΕΓΝΑΤΙΑ 12 (2008), pp. 145-177 (mentioned in Archaeological Reports 2009, vol. 55, p. 57)



2019:  ΤΩΙ ΔΙΔΑΣΚΑΛΩΙ. Volume in honor of Professor I. M. Akamatis. [Co-editor with N. Akamatis, N. Poulakakis, and A. Vouvoulis]