• area was a burial ground as early as 12th century B. C.

  • was the potters’ quarters
    • potters were called kerameis, from keramos, the clay they used
    • the name Kerameikos means ‘of the potters’

  • in 479/8 B. C., Themistokles built a wall through the area to protect the city from the Persians
    • many older tombstones and monuments were used to build the wall and to fortify the foundation of the Sacred Way
      • they were discovered by archaeologists in 2002
      • of these a kouros, lion, and sphinx are now in the on-site museum (others are in the National Archaeological Museum)
      • wheel marks from carts passing on the Sacred Way can be seen on the kouros and lion

  • the Eridanos River flows through the site, but it has been covered since the Roman era


  • the site was forgotten and, over the intervening centuries, completely covered until 1863, when someone digging in the area discovered a grave stele


    

  • each year, a sacred procession to the Parthenon began at this gate
    • maidens carried a robe (peplos) that was presented to Athena


    

  • was the building in which festivities associated with the procession (pompe) to Parthenon took place

  • may have been the site of the sacrifice of 100 cows (hecatomb) that was said to occur before the procession

  • completely destroyed by the Roman general Sulla, when he sacked Athens in 86 B. C.

  • a warehouse was built on the site in the 2nd century A. D.


    

  • a gate leading into Athens

  • archaeologists have found a number of animal bones nearby, perhaps from the hecatomb sacrifice that preceded the procession to the Parthenon


    

  • here was the grave relief of an Athenian named Dexileos, who died in 394 B. C., at the age of 20, in a battle near Corinth
    • the relief is now in the onsite museum


    

  • here was the grave stele of Hegeso, daughter of Proxenos
    • she is depicted seated on a chair with a maid servant

  • from the end of the 5th century B. C.


  • in the excavation for the Kerameikos metro station, a cemetery plot southwest of the Kerameikos district was discovered
    • contained over 1900 graves
    • some 150 burials, dated to around 430 B. C., had been done in great haste with little organization
      • these were probably people who died in the plague of 430-428, at the beginning of the Peloponnesian War (see Thucydides 2.47ff), when thousands of people crowded into Athens for protection from the invading Spartans and their allies
 
 
 

Relief Commemorating Dexileos

 
 

Relief Commemorating Hegeso