Adapted from Eyewitness Travel Guide, Greece

Site Plan of the Athenian Agora

(from http://www.agathe.gr/overview/)

  • little remains of the ancient agora, the public marketplace and heart of classical Athens

  • much art and many artifacts from site are now in the Agora Museum in the rebuilt Stoa of Attalos

  • Socrates liked to frequent the agora and engage in discussions with his fellow Athenians

  • many aspects of Athenian democracy took place here
    • city council (boule)
    • courts of law
    • ostracism

    the Athenian mint was located here


  • in 1931, the American School of Classical Studies began to excavate the agora

  • some 5000 people lived in houses on the site and had to be relocated
    • John D. Rockefeller donated a great deal of money to make this possible

  • some 3 to 40 feet of dirt and debris lay atop the level of the ancient agora, depending on the location

View across the Agora, with the Hephaesteion in the foreground.
Photograph by Fred Boissonas, 1920.

View across the Agora, looking towards the southeast,
on 25 May 1931, the first day of excavation

Virtually the same view 75 years later

(both photos from http://www.agathe.gr/overview/the_site_before_excavation.html)

Drawing of the Agora, Edward Dodwell, 1821

    

  • originally built 159-138 B. C. by Attalos, king of Pergamon

  • destroyed in A. D. 267 by the Herulians

  • reconstructed 1953-1956 on original foundations, using many ancient materials
    • funded at least partly by John D. Rockefeller, Jr.


    

  • on northwest edge of agora

  • built 449 - 440 B. C.

  • Doric peripteral temple

  • dedicated to Hephaestos

  • one of the best preserved ancient temples

  • content of friezes is disputed
    • some people think the friezes commemorate Theseus
      • hence the temple is sometimes called the Theseion

  • was the Greek Orthodox Church of St. George Akametes from seventh century until 1834


    

  • meeting place for Athenian council


    

  • name means ‘circle’

  • also called the Prytaneion
    • headquarters of the Prytanis, executives of Athenian council

  • 59 feet in diameter

  • built ca. 470 B. C. by Kimon

  • had dining hall and sleeping quarters

  • Socrates proposed that his ‘sentence’ be to receive free meals here


    

  • a marble podium supporting bronze statues of ten heroes, representing the tribes of Athens
    • Erechtheus
    • Aegeus (father of Theseus)
    • Pandion II
    • Leo
    • Acamas (son of Theseus)
    • Oeneus
    • Cecrops II
    • Hippothoon
    • Ajax
    • Antiochus (a son of Herakles)

  • a kind of ‘bulletin board’ where important announcements were posted


    

  • original home of the Athenian council

  • later dedicated to the mother goddess

  • housed official archives of Athens


    

  • dedicated to the Twelve Olympian deities

  • used as starting point from which distances throughout the city were measured

  • exact location uncertain until early 2011


    

  • starting point for a procession to the Parthenon that took place once every four years as part of the Panathenaic Festival

  • a robe (peplos) was carried to the Parthenon and ceremoniously presented to Athena

Remains of Simon the Shoemaker’s shop

  

  • Diogenes Laertius writes,

    Simon, an Athenian, a shoemaker. When Sokrates came to his workshop and discoursed, he used to make notes of what he remembered, whence these dialogues were called “The Shoemaker’s” (2.13.122)
    • however, none of these writings survive

  • many scholars doubted the veracity of the accounts of Simon
    • but the discovery, in the 1950s, of a shoemaker’s shop in the southwest corner of the agora, near the Tholos, lends credence to the accounts
      • the remains date to the 5th century B. C.
    • the case is further strengthened by the base of a cup, found in front of the shop, inscribed “of Simon”
      • the design of the cup suggests that it was created ca. 460, which is too early for Sokrates (469 - 399)
      • but the cup-base may have been re-used as a doorknocker, the inscription naming the owner of the shop

Bone eyelets found in Simon the Shoemaker’s shop

Iron hobnails found in Simon the Shoemaker’s shop
(photo by Craig Mauzy, from http://www.agathe.gr/democracy/sokrates.html)

Base of a cup found in the roadway in front of Simon the Shoemaker’s shop;
the inscription says, “of Simon”