Ancient Agora of Athens

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Ancient Agora of Athens
Αρχαία Αγορά της Αθήνας
Ancient Agora of Athens is located in Athens
Ancient Agora of Athens
Central Athens
Alternative nameClassical Agora
Coordinates37°58′30″N 23°43′21″E / 37.97500°N 23.72250°E / 37.97500; 23.72250
Founded6th century BC  
PeriodsClassical era
CulturesAncient Greece
Site notes
Excavation dates1931 until today
ArchaeologistsAmerican School of Classical Studies at Athens
OwnershipPublic property
ManagementMinister for Culture
Public accessYes
View of the ancient agora. The temple of Hephaestus is to the left and the Stoa of Attalos to the right.

The ancient Agora of Athens (also called the Classical Agora) is the best-known example of an ancient Greek agora, located to the northwest of the Acropolis and bounded on the south by the hill of the Areopagus and on the west by the hill known as the Agoraios Kolonos, also called Market Hill.[1] The Agora's initial use was for a commercial, assembly, or residential gathering place.[2]

Buildings and structures of the classical agora[edit]

North side of the agora[edit]

East side of the agora[edit]

  • The Stoa of Attalos, a stoa lined with shops built in the 2nd century B.C. which has since been reconstructed for use as the Museum of The Ancient Agora.[5]
  • The Peristyle Court was a law court originally located under the northern end of the Stoa of Attalos.
  • A collection of buildings were added to the south-east corner: the East stoa, the Library of Pantainos, the Nymphaeum and a temple.
  • The Library of Pantainos was more than just a library, the west and north wings were series of rooms that were used for other purposes other than storing books. With the construction of the Library of Pantainos, the official entrance into the agora was now between the Library and the Stoa of Attalos.[6]
  • The Mint, a building which was used for the minting of bronze coinage in the 2nd and 3rd centuries B.C. but there is no evidence for it being used for the minting of Athenian silver coinage.[7]
  • The Monopteros was located south of the Basilica and also dated to the mid 100s CE It had no walls, was a dome supported by columns and was about 8 meters in diameter.[8]
  • The Bema was a speakers platform and was located near the Stoa of Attalos.[9]

South side of the agora[edit]

  • The Middle stoa which was the most extensive monument built during the 2nd century B.C.[10]
  • A small Roman temple was added in front of the Middle stoa.
  • South-east Fountain House
  • South Stoa I
  • Aiakeion

West side of the agora[edit]

Other notable monuments[edit]

The entrance to the Odeon of Agrippa

A number of other notable monuments were added to the agora. Some of these included:

Gender roles in the Athenian Agora[edit]


In the 4th and 5th centuries, there was significant evidence of women being innkeepers and merchants selling their products in the market of the Athenian agora. Some of the products they sold include fruits, clothes, pottery, religious and luxury goods, perfume, incense, purple dye, wreaths, and ribbons.


The Athenian calendar glistened with religious festivals that were held in the Athenian agora. These festivals were significant for women as they provided a reason for them to leave their homes and socialize with people outside their family. Also, many of these religious festivals were performed by women; these duties included officiating the worship of goddess Athena, the namesake of the city, Athens. Doing these rituals for goddesses was a prerequisite for the daughters of aristocratic families. Women of all ranks and classes could be seen making offerings at the small shrines that dotted the Agora in Athens. Also, women got to set up more substantial memorials to their piety within the agora. Religious festivals were a huge opportunity for the women of Athens to participate in their social culture.[17]

Marble-workers in the Athenian Agora[edit]

As of the early 5th century, the Ancient Agora of Athens was known as glorious and richly decorated, set with famous works of art, many of them sculpted from marble. The buildings of the Athenian Agora had marble decoration and housed dedications in the form of marble statues. Finds from the agora excavations identified that generations of marble-workers made the agora of Athens an important center for the production of marble sculptures. Marble-workers made sculptures, marble weights, sundials, furniture parts, an assortment of kitchen utensils. In the excavations of the Athenian agora revealed the remains of many marble-working establishments, and various unfinished statues, reliefs, and utilitarian objects.

Marble workshops in the Agora[edit]

Excavations of the Athenian agora has proved that marble-workers were very active, the earliest workshops being established in the early 5th century. The earliest areas used by marble workers was the residential and industrial district southwest of the agora. Another area where marble-workers set up shop was in the South Square, after the sack of Athens by the Roman general Sulla in 86 BC. As the South Square was in ruins, marble-workers were attracted to the remains of the marble temples. A workshop from the southern corner of the agora was also important, the Library of Pantainos rented out rooms to marble-workers.

Famous marble-workers in the Agora[edit]

Literacy and evidence from excavations give a sense of statues and famous marble sculptors in the Athenian agora. These famous marble-workers of the Agora include, the 5th-century master Phidias and his associate Alkamenes, and the 4th-century sculptors Praxiteles, Bryaxis, and Euphranor.


Phidias was the most well known marble-worker to have worked in the agora. He was famous for his gold and ivory cult statue of Zeus at Olympia, and for his three lost sculptures of Athena.


A well-known associate of Phidias was Alcamenes, whose most important works in the agora were the bronze cult statues of Hephaestus and Athena in the Temple of Hephaestus.

Praxiteles and Bryaxis[edit]

These famous sculptors are attested in the agora by the discovery of signed pieces of work that could no longer be preserved. A marble statue signed and possibly carved by Bryaxis was found in the agora behind the Royal Stoa.


The 4th century marble-worker known for his sculptures, made a colossal statue Apollo for the Temple of Apollo Patroos on the west side of the agora.[18]


The ancient Athenian agora has been excavated by the American School of Classical Studies at Athens (ASCSA) since 1931 under the direction of Thomas Leslie Shear, Sr.[19] His wife Josephine Platner Shear who supervised the digging and led the study and conservation of numismatics from the site, as well as making the discovery of a new 2nd-century C.E. Athenian coin.[20][21] The excavation was negotiated and directed by the ASCSA's chair of the agora excavation committee, Edward Capps, who the school would honor with a memorial overlooking the project.[22][23][24] They continue to the present day, now under the direction of John McK Camp.

After the initial phase of excavation, in the 1950s the Hellenistic Stoa of Attalos was reconstructed on the east side of the agora, and today it serves as a museum and as storage and office space for the excavation team.[25]

A virtual reconstruction of the Ancient Agora of Athens has been produced through a collaboration of the American School of Classical Studies at Athens and the Foundation of the Hellenic World, which had various output (3d video, VR real-time dom performance, Google Earth 3d models).[26]


Evidence of planting was discovered during the excavations and on January 4, 1954, the first oak and laurel trees were planted around the Altar of Zeus by Queen Frederika and King Paul as part of the efforts to restore the site with plants that would have been found there in antiquity.[27]

Museum of the Ancient Agora[edit]

The museum is housed in the Stoa of Attalos, and its exhibits are connected with the Athenian democracy. The collection of the museum includes clay, bronze and glass objects, sculptures, coins and inscriptions from the 7th to the 5th century BC, as well as pottery of the Byzantine period and the Turkish occupation. The exhibition within the museum contains work of art which describes the private and public life in ancient Athens. In 2012, new sculpture exhibition was added to the museum which includes portraits from Athenian Agora excavation. The new exhibition revolves around portraits of idealized gods, officially honored people of the city, wealthy Roman citizens of the 1st and 2nd century AD, 3rd-century citizens and finally on work of art from private art schools of late antiquity.[28]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ R.E. Wycherley, Literary and Epigraphical Testimonia (Athenian Agora) (American School of Classical Studies, 1957), p. 27.
  2. ^ Sakoulas, Thomas. "The Agora of Athens". Retrieved 4 November 2017.
  3. ^ "Agora Monument Stoa Poikile -". Retrieved 28 November 2021.
  4. ^ Camp, The Athenian Agora: Site Guide, p. 93.
  5. ^ Camp, The Athenian Agora: Site Guide, p. 123.
  6. ^ A., Thompson, Homer (1972). The Agora of Athens : the history, shape, and uses of an ancient city center. Wycherley, R.E. (Richard Ernest). Princeton, NJ: American School of Classical Studies at Athens. ISBN 978-0876612149. OCLC 554992.
  7. ^ "Agora Monument Mint -". Retrieved 28 November 2021.
  8. ^ Camp, The Athenian Agora: Site Guide, p. 118.
  9. ^ Camp, The Athenian Agora: Site Guide, p. 122.
  10. ^ Camp, The Athenian Agora: Site Guide, p. 168.
  11. ^ "Agora Monument Eponymous Heroes -". Retrieved 28 November 2021.
  12. ^ Camp, The Athenian Agora: Site Guide, p. 73.
  13. ^ Camp, The Athenian Agora: Site Guide, p. 63.
  14. ^ Camp, The Athenian Agora: Site Guide, p. 65.
  15. ^ Camp, The Athenian Agora: Site Guide, p. 110.
  16. ^ Camp, The Athenian Agora: Site Guide, p. 114.
  17. ^ Rotroff, Susan I., 1947- (2006). Women in the Athenian Agora. Lamberton, Robert., American School of Classical Studies at Athens. Athens: American School of Classical Studies at Athens. ISBN 0-87661-644-9. OCLC 60668217.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  18. ^ Lawton, Carol L. (2006). Marbleworkers in the Athenian Agora. American School of Classical Studies at Athens. [Athens]: American School of Classical Studies at Athens. ISBN 978-0-87661-645-1. OCLC 61478156.
  19. ^ "The American School of Classical Studies at Athens". Archived from the original on 16 June 2006. Retrieved 13 January 2022.
  20. ^ Armstrong *14, April C. (6 November 2019). "Faculty Wives and the Push for Coeducation at Princeton University". Mudd Manuscript Library Blog. Retrieved 26 August 2021.
  21. ^ Walbank, Mary E. Hoskins; Walbank, Michael B. (2015). "A Roman Corinthian Family Tomb and Its Afterlife". Hesperia: The Journal of the American School of Classical Studies at Athens. 84 (1): 149–206. doi:10.2972/hesperia.84.1.0149. ISSN 0018-098X. JSTOR 10.2972/hesperia.84.1.0149. S2CID 164451358.
  22. ^ "About Edward Capps | American School of Classical Studies at Athens". 19 July 2011. Retrieved 6 May 2021.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  23. ^ David W. Rupp (2013). "Mutually Antagonistic Philhellenes: Edward Capps and Bert Hodge Hill at the American School of Classical Studies and Athens College". Hesperia: The Journal of the American School of Classical Studies at Athens. 82 (1): 67. doi:10.2972/hesperia.82.1.0067. ISSN 0018-098X. S2CID 164414874.
  24. ^ "EXCAVATION AT ATHENS SEEN NEAR BY CAPPS; Director of Agora Project Says Negotiations Will Be Completed in a Few Months". The New York Times. 1 March 1928. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 6 May 2021.
  25. ^ "Overview: The Archaeological Site".
  26. ^ Sideris A., "A Virtual Cradle for Democracy: Reconstructing the Ancient Agora of Athens", Proceedings of the International SEEArchWeb Conference, Thessaloniki, September 2006.
  27. ^ Garden Lore of Ancient Athens. American School of Classical Studies. p. 4.
  28. ^ "Ministry of Culture and Sports | Museum of the Ancient Agora". Retrieved 29 September 2017.

Further reading[edit]

  • Camp, J. (2010). The Athenian Agora Site Guide. 5th ed. Princeton, NJ: American School of Classical Studies.
  • Dickenson, Christopher P. (2015). "Pausanias and the "Archaic Agora" at Athens." Hesperia: The Journal of the American School of Classical Studies at Athens 84.4: 723–770.
  • Dickenson, Christopher P. and Onno M. van Nijf ed. (2013).  Public Space in the Post-Classical City: Proceedings of a One Day Colloquium held at Fransum, 23rd July 2007. Caeculus, 7.   Leuven: Peeters.
  • Gawlinski, L. (2007). "The Athenian Calendar of Sacrifices: A New Fragment from the Athenian Agora." Hesperia 76:37–55.
  • Harris, Edward Monroe (2014). "Wife, Household, and Marketplace." In Women Who Count in Greek History. Edited by Umberto Bultrighini, Elisabetta Dimauro. Lanciano: Carabba.
  • Lang, M. (1994). Life, Death, and Litigation in the Athenian Agora. Agora Picturebook 23. Princeton, NJ: American School of Classical Studies at Athens.
  • Lang, M. (2004). The Athenian Citizen: Democracy in the Athenian Agora. Rev. ed. Agora Picturebook 4. Princeton, NJ: American School of Classical Studies at Athens.
  • MacKinnon, Michael (2014). "Animals, Economics, and Culture in the Athenian Agora: Comparative Zooarchaeological Investigations." Hesperia: The Journal of the American School of Classical Studies at Athens 83.2: 189–255.
  • Thompson, D.B. (1971). The Athenian Agora: An Ancient Shopping Center. Agora Picturebook 12. Princeton, NJ: American School of Classical Studies at Athens.
  • Wycherley, R.E. (1973). The Athenian Agora. Vol. 3, Literary and Epigraphical Testimonia. Princeton, NJ: American School of Classical Studies.

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 37°58′30″N 23°43′21″E / 37.97500°N 23.72250°E / 37.97500; 23.72250