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The clay water vessels of Aegina Island

Aegina is a Greek island situated in the Saronic Gulf, 16 nautical miles away from Athens. The island has a triangular shape with a coastline of 57 km and has two big bays, Marathonas bay on the Western side and Saint Marina bay on the Northwest side. The climate is Mediterranean of mild winters and dry, hot summers. Apart from coastal areas, the scenery is completed with small hills, most of them covered in pine trees, and a mountain 531 m high.

Nowadays, around 14.000 people live in total on the island. More than half of the inhabitants live in the town of Aegina, and the rest of them live in the scattered settlements all over the island each with its own distinct character. Pottery workshops were established mostly in the northern part of the island because of the abundant clay deposits and the concentration of the most populated settlements of the island. Research has shown 11 areas that clustered the majority of the pottery workshops; the town of Aegina, Agioi Asomati, Prophitis Elias, Kipseli (Xalasmeni), Vathy, Leonti, Agioi, Mesagros, St.Marina, Marathon and Polles Elies. Mesagros is the main area where water vessels are crafted and is situated in the centre of the island.

Despite its small size, Aegina’s geomorphology is quite rich, including lime, sandstone, schist, limestone, and porous stone. The essential material for the production of the water vessels, the dark red clay, is mostly found in the Northeast area of the island.

Aegina has a long history, dating back to the Neolithic era (4th millennium BC). Among the main highlights of its history was the period of great prosperity between 657-459 BC, a period during which the exemplary temple of Aphaia took its last form as known today. When the weather permits it, there is visual contact between the Aphaia Temple, the Acropolis and the Temple of Poseidon in Sounion, and if a line could be drawn to link them, it would reveal an equilateral triangle. Another milestone in Aegina’s history can be considered the short period when it was proclaimed capital of the newly founded Greek state by the Governor Ioannis Kapodistrias, in 1829.

Among the most interesting monuments one can visit the Apollo Temple, a prehistoric and classical site, built even before Acropolis, known as “Kolona” (column) after the sole standing column. Of great historical interest is also the byzantine and post byzantine Palaiachora -the island’s capital for almost 1000 years (from the 9th to early 19th c. AD), the Tower of Markellos, built in 1802 etc.