On the ground floor inside the Stoa of Attalos at the Museum of the Ancient Agora of Athens.

Museum of the Ancient Agora of Athens

Focusing on exhibits from the daily life of Ancient Athenians.
Located in the Ancient Agora of Athens and housed in the Stoa of Attalos, dating from 150 BC, it's a must-visit museum for anyone interested in Ancient Greece.

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Where is the Museum of the Ancient Agora of Athens

The Museum of the Ancient Agora of Athens is located in the beautifully reconstructed Stoa of Attalos. This iconic structure was originally built during the 2nd century BC by King Attalos II of Pergamon as a gift to the city of Athens. 

Located in the Ancient Agora of Athens, the museum’s galleries showcase a fascinating collection of archaeological artefacts dating from the Neolithic to the Post-Byzantine and Ottoman periods. These items were uncovered during systematic excavations conducted by the American School of Classical Studies at Athens

The museum’s exhibitions are organized into chronological and thematic units, providing visitors with an insightful glimpse into various aspects of public and private life in ancient Athens. 

Some of the earliest exhibits on display include potsherds, vases, terracotta figurines, and weapons dating back to the Neolithic, Bronze Age, Iron Age, and Geometric period. These items were all found in wells and tombs located around the Athenian Agora of Athens.

The most important exhibits at the museum are the objects associated with the various departments of civic life and the institutions of Athenian Democracy. These exhibits date back to the Classical and Late Classical periods and provide a fascinating insight into how Athens was governed.

 Amongst the exhibits are official clay measures, official bronze weights, fragments of a marble machine, a clay water clock, and official bronze ballots.

Other interesting exhibits include pots inscribed with names of illustrious political personalities of the 5th century BC, which were used as ballots in the process of ostracism.

What was the Stoa of Attalos?

The Stoa of Attalos is an impressive covered walkway within the ancient marketplace known as the Agora in Athens. When it was built around 150 BC, the Stoa of Attalos was one of Athens’s largest and most elaborate buildings. Beautiful marble floors and walls lined with marble columns make it hard to imagine that its ground floor once served as a bustling shopping mall.

King Attalos II gave the Stoa to the people of Athens as a gift to show his appreciation for his education in the city. In fact, there were five Stoas in Athens, and they were built to enclose the Agora.

The Stoa of Attalos is 115 meters long and nearly 20 meters wide, spanning two floors. The ground floor was open at either end, with a wall running along the western side that led to 21 small rooms. This wall was also decorated with elegant marble columns. 

The opposite side of the Stoa was open, with a series of columns running along it. The first floor didn’t have such a high ceiling as the ground floor, and there was a low wall between the columns on the exterior side.

The Stoa of Attalos was constructed from high-quality marble sourced from the Penteli mountains and limestone. It’s interesting to note that the Stoa combined several Greek architectural styles – on the ground floor, the exterior colonnade was Doric, while the interior columns were Ionic.

 

Aryballos
This small Archaic oil-flask sculpted in the form of a kneeling boy represents an athlete binding a ribbon, a symbol of victory, around his head. It dates to around 530 BC.

Klepsydra
Dating back to the 5th century BC, this is a unique example of the terracotta water clocks used for timing speeches in the public law courts. When a speaker began, the stopper was pulled out of the jug. It would take exactly six minutes for the water to run out, at which point the speaker had to stop even if he was in mid-sentence.

Ostraka
When there was fear of tyranny, citizens voted to exile politicians considered dangerous or a problem for Athens. These small inscribed pottery fragments played a crucial role in the incipient democracy. Called ostraka, they were used as ballots in the process of ostracism. Those displayed show the names of several prominent politicians exiled this way, including Themistokles, one of Athens’ most influential leaders.

Bronze Shield
This massive Spartan shield was a trophy taken by the Athenians after their victory over the Spartans in the battle of Sphacteria in 425 BC. It is difficult to imagine a soldier carrying something so heavy and cumbersome into the melee of battle. On the front of the shield, one of the Athenian victors has inscribed, “Athens defeated Sparta at Pylos”.

Head of Nike
This small, delicate head of Athena Nike, dated to about 425 BC, was once covered with sheets of silver and gold; eyes would have been inset.

Winged Nike
This sensuous, swirling, rippling statue of Athena once adorned the Agora’s Stoa of Zeus Eleutherios. Her active stance and clinging, flowing chiton la loose, full-length tunic) are typical of how the goddess was depicted at that time. It dates to around 415 BC.

Apollo Patroos
This colossal but finely sculpted marble cult statue of Apollo graced a temple to the god in the Agora. Dating to around 330 BC, it is the work of the famous Greek sculptor and painter Euphranor. A later copy shows that in this sculpture, the god of music played the Kithara, an early stringed instrument.

Law for Democracy
In 336 or 337 BC, the citizens of Athena passed a historic vote for a new system of democracy, giving every (male) citizen an equal vote. The law is inscribed here and topped by an image of a personification of Athens’s Demos (people) crowned by democracy herself.

Marble Kleroterion
This device was used by the Parliament of Athens between the 3rd and 2nd century BC, in the period of the ten tribes of Attica, to select people randomly for official roles. The seemingly simple box performed operations with slots, weights, cranks and coloured balls. A sign below the display case explains the complexities of its operation.

Calyx Krater
Dating to 530 BC, this is the earliest known calyx krater – an elegant vessel used to mix water and wine at banquets – and the only vase of this shape attributed to Exekias, the greatest Attic vase painter. It shows several beautifully detailed scenes, including Herakles being introduced to the gods of Olympus and the Greek and Trojan heroes’ fight over the body of Patroclus.

I would definitely consider taking photos of most, if not all, of the items I have described. in the above “Top Things to Do”.

Since the museum is located in the Ancient Agora of Athens, it has the same opening times.

Winter Season – November 1st to March 31st

Monday to Sunday 08:00 – 17:00

Summer Season – April 1st to October 31st

Monday to Sunday 08:00 – 20:00

Closed

January 1st, March 25th, May 1st, Easter Sunday, December 25th and 26th

My photos of the Museum of the Ancient Agora of Athens

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