Methodology in general

The programme consists of two stages: first, fieldwork at the monuments to gather the relevant information and the photographic evidence of and/or imprint of vessels, and then the processing of the data collected and its registering in the specific fields of the database. As a key objective of the programme was the exhaustive identification of the monuments of each region that display this particular form of decoration, the initial step was to identify – through the indexing of literature relevant to each area – the references to churches where immured vessels have been preserved or where simply their impressions remain. The first catalogue that was drawn up this way was supplemented – in most cases leading to many more monuments being discovered – by the research of fellow archaeologists of the relevant Ephorates in their photographic records. In many cases the restoration works undertaken by the Ephorates of Antiquites also contributed to the increase of the number of churches, as the removal of the lime coating of the walls revealed the existence of immured vessels or empty receptacles, which had been completely undetectable in the prior state of the monuments. Typical examples are the vessels discovered in the katholicon of Halepa Monastery and the neighbouring Agia Marina, in the katholikon of the Asomaton Monastery, in Agios Nikolaos in the village of Apostoloi, in the homonymous church in Lampiotes (prefecture of Rethymnon). Also in other cases, as in the Holy Apostles in Petrohori or the Assumption in the village of Aimonas (prefecture of Rethymnon), in earlier ‘cleaning’ of the churches, the vessels were completely whitewashed over. In several cases, the final catalogue of the monuments of each region occurred after field research conducted by the project coordinator in collaboration with colleagues in the Ephorates; during the research additional monuments with examples of this practice were frequently identified. Typical is the case in the prefecture of Rethymnon, where 15 churches were originally reported, but now there are 70 churches identified with immured vessels on their façades.

During the fieldwork every effort was made to acquire the most possible detailed documentation of vessels. Apart from taking detailed photographs with a digital high-resolution camera, the diameter of the vessels or of the empty receptacles was also recorded. In some cases it was possible to make an imprint their profile, although such evidence lacked the measurement for the thickness of the parts of the vessel, given that their removal from the wall was not possible. In selected cases, impressions of the whole façades of the churches were made, always to scale, in order to better highlight the position of the immured vessels across the façade of the monument, and for the layout of the vessels to become clearer in their relationship to other forms of decoration.

The following stage consisted in selecting the best photographs to add to the database, as well as the detailed documentation of the monuments and the vessels, region by region. In most cases the description of the vessels and the juxtaposition of the comparable objects was made by the coordinator of the programme, while in some cases the documentation of the vessels was made by the colleagues of the Ephorates in collaboration with the coordinator. The detailed documentation of the respective monuments was done exclusively by cooperating with the programme archaeologists of the relevant Ephorates. An attempt was made to produce the most exhaustive listing possible of the bibliography related to the monuments or the vessels.