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The Maries Area
A long wooded valley leads inland from the fishing port of Skala Marion (31km). After 4km, shortly beyond the junction for Kalyvia, the remains of a fortified Byzantine settlement can be found on the hill to the right (south) of the road, at a place known locally as ‘Palaiokastro’. This may have been abandoned after the 17th century in favour of a more hidden settlement further from the coast at Maries. Continuing a further 2km towards Maries, you come to a road branching northwards to the monastery of the ‘Panaghoudia’, dedicated to the Dormition of the Virgin. Although the monastery structure is mostly modern, the catholicon is clearly much older, possibly dating from the late 15th century. The dark interior (lit by only one window) has a beautiful programme of wall-paintings of the 17th century, more complete than any other on the island. A fountain adorns the north wall, and appropriately forms the focus of the paintings of the Virgin as the ‘Fountain of Life’.
The road continues a further 5km inland to the settlement of Maries, which grew up here in the 18th century. The village has conserved many of its traditional stone houses, grouped around the early 19th century church, which has an unusual dedication to the Synaxis Taxiarchon (‘The Assembly of Archangels’): the church has a fine wooden ceiling.
Above the shore not more than a kilometre to the south of Skala Marion, are the interesting remains of an Archaic ceramic workshop. Given the quantity of amphorae which the exportation of the island’s wine-production required in antiquity, this must have been one of many such workshops on the island. Its importance is considerable, both because of its antiquity (this workshop was in use for over 200 years, from the late 6th, down to the 3rd, century bc) and for what it tells archaeologists about the processes of ceramic production. The choice of site is determined first of all by proximity to a good vein of clay; but accessibility of both water for the preparation of the clay, and fuel for the oven, were important considerations. Closeness to the shore also facilitated transportation of the finished articles. A number of elements are clearly distinguishable in the excavated area. At the northern perimeter the circular base of one of the kilns can be seen, constructed in large blocks; at its centre is the support for the shelf on which the pots were stacked for firing. This would have been covered with a brick dome. In the southeast corner (shore side), are the decantation tanks for the washing of the clay. Excavations have brought to light a wide variety of pottery objects of both Attic and Cycladic style and form.
Thasos Island is part of the Northern Aegean Island Group, Greece.