In Thessaloniki for a greek weekend and a wedding, I had a chance this morning to visit the city's archaeological museum. I was not expecting much, although I had a vague recollection that the area is rich with old archaeological sites and tombs, many of which were unearthed in pristine state. Hence I was extremely happy of the wealth of sculptures, jewelry, vases, and objects of all kinds, especially ones from the pre-Ellenistic period.
The collection of jewelry and gold and silver coins was impressive; by itself it was well worth the visit. But two things really made my day: some incredibly beautiful vases from Chios, and the Derveni papyrus.

The vases from Chios are white, with figures painted with various colours. I found the shapes and decorations of those on display of incredible beauty. I could not take pictures and in the web I only found the picture on the right, which shows a beautiful wine cup - but not the best specimen I saw today.

The other thing that impressed me was a papyrus found in a tomb near the road leading from Thessaloniki to Kavala, in Derveni. This is a rarity, as the Greek climate is hostile to the preservation of papyrus. The Derveni papyrus got to us because it was charred by a fire. Surprisingly, this preserved it from the humidity, and a careful treatment of the remains allowed to read many parts of the inscriptions. 

The text appears to be a commentary of a poem by Orpheus. According to wikipedia the last word on it has yet to be spelt. They report that

The text was not officially published for forty-four years after its discovery (though three partial editions were published). A team of experts was assembled in autumn 2005 led by A. L. Pierris of the Institute for Philosophical studies and Dirk Obbink, director of the Oxyrhynchus papyrus project at the University of Oxford, with the help of modern multispectral imaging techniques by Roger Macfarlane and Gene Ware of Brigham Young University to attempt a better approach to the edition of a difficult text. Meanwhile, the papyrus has been published by scholars from Thessaloniki (Tsantsanoglou et al., below), which provides a complete text of the papyrus based on autopsy of the fragments, with photographs and translation.
Fascinating stuff, if you ask me.