| Description | | Exhibits |

From Iconoclasm to the splendour of the Macedonian and Comnene dynasties

Relief icon of the Virgin praying, 11th century
This exhibition presents the art and culture of the Middle Byzantine period (eighth to twelfth centuries AD), a time of great intellectual and artistic achievement for the Byzantine empire, especially during the reign of the Macedonian and Comnene dynasties. The first two centuries of this period, however, were marked by the Iconoclast controversy which led to the prohibition of representational art and its replacement by abstract decoration, dominated by the sign of the cross.

The exhibition, which occupies the museum's fourth room, stresses the changes between the previous, Early Christian period, and this one, with an emphasis on religion and religious architecture. Iconoclasm, monasticism, and the conversion to Christianity of the Slavs by the brothers Cyril and Methodius from Thessaloniki are illustrated through archaeological material and informative texts. Lastly, two more displays of pottery and jewelry present aspects of everyday life.
D. Nalpantis, archaeologist

Exhibition Units
Exhibition subject units
- Church building
The new domed church in its many variants dominated religious architecture. Clay amphorae incorporated into church vaults and clay bricks used for creating decorative motifs on church fa?ades were typical elements of church building during this period.
- Church decoration and furnishings
This unit presents a wealth of material, which includes architectural sculptures, wooden and marble icons, wall-paintings, a manuscript gospel, inscriptions and a marble church-shaped larnax. The new cross-domed church brought changes in sculpted and painted decoration with the standardization of iconographic programs in which each scene thereafter occupied a specific location in the building. After the end of Iconoclasm, sculpture saw a new floruit, influenced by the revival of ancient Greek mythology and Islamic art.
- Administration and ecclesiastical organization
This unit presents lead seals of lay and ecclesiastical officials. These two-sided seals, which were used to certify official documents, depict Christ, the Virgin or a saint on the obverse, and their owner's name and office on the reverse.
- Technological development
Technological development is illustrated through the evolution of pottery production techniques and the use of glaze, which made the surface impermeable. The display includes pottery with painted, engraved and relief decoration.
- Myrovlisia (miraculous oil exudation) and great centres of pilgrimage
This display includes metal crosses, ossuaries and lead ampullae, characteristic of the great pilgrimage centres of this period. Thessaloniki was such a centre, since two important saints, Theodora and Demetrios, known to exude sacred oil, were venerated there.
- Burial customs
A series of relief funerary plaques introduce the subject of cemeteries, which during this period were transfered within the city boundaries and inside the courtyards of churches and monasteries. Funerary customs are illustrated through various exhibits, such as the pseudo-sarcophagi that were placed inside churches and used to bury clerics and high officials, a silk epitaphios and metal jewelry.