In This Article Expand or collapse the "in this article" section Athenian Agora

  • Introduction
  • General Overviews
  • Bibliography
  • Origins
  • Sculpture

Classics Athenian Agora
John Camp
  • LAST REVIEWED: 15 March 2023
  • LAST MODIFIED: 29 September 2014
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780195389661-0207


A large open square, surrounded on all four sides by public buildings, the Agora of Athens was in all respects the center of town. From the beginning the square was used for a variety of activities: marketplace, elections, dramatic performances, athletic contests, religious processions, and military drill. The excavation of buildings, monuments, and small objects has illustrated the important role it played in all aspects of civic life. The senate chamber (bouleuterion), public office buildings (Royal Stoa, South Stoa I), and archives (metroon) have all been excavated. The law courts are represented by the discovery of bronze ballots and a water clock used to time speeches. The use of the area as a marketplace is suggested by the numerous shops and workrooms where potters, cobblers, bronzeworkers, and sculptors made and sold their wares. Long stoas, or colonnades, provided shaded walkways for those wishing to meet friends to discuss business, politics, or philosophy, and statues and commemorative monuments reminded citizens of former triumphs. A library and concert hall met cultural needs, and numerous shrines and temples received regular worship in the area. Thus administrative, political, judicial, commercial, social, cultural, and religious activities all found a place here together in the heart of ancient Athens from the 6th century BCE until the 6th century CE.

General Overviews

There are numerous overviews of the site and excavation available, all of them written by scholars closely associated with the project. They are aimed both at scholars (Wycherley 1973, Thompson and Wycherley 1972, Camp and Mauzy 2009, Frantz 1988) and at a general audience (Camp 1992, Camp 2003, Camp 2010, Camp 2003, Gawlinski 2014). Presentations are historical, thematic, or topographical. Travlos 1971, Camp 2003, and Mauzy 2006 provide extensive illustrations and photos.

  • Camp, J. 1992. The Athenian Agora: Excavations in the heart of classical Athens. London: Thames and Hudson.

    NNNAn updated review of the history and archaeology of the site, intended to reach a more general audience.

  • Camp, J. 2003. The Athenian Agora: A short guide. Rev. ed. Agora Picturebook 16. Princeton, NJ: American School of Classical Studies.

    NNNA short, readily portable forty-eight-page guide, richly illustrated with both drawings and color photos.

  • Camp, J. 2010. The Athenian Agora site guide. 5th ed. Princeton, NJ: American School of Classical Studies.

    NNNGuide, with the monuments presented topographically for visitors to the site. Includes bibliography for individual monuments.

  • Camp, J., and C. A. Mauzy, eds. 2009. The Athenian Agora: New perspectives on an ancient site. Mainz am Rhein, Germany: Verlag Philipp von Zabern.

    NNNAn edited volume with contributions describing the advances and evolution of scholarship in various disciplines at the Agora.

  • Gawlinski 2014. The Athenian Agora: Museum guide. Princeton, NJ: American School of Classical Studies at Athens.

    NNNA guide to the antiquities from the excavations displayed in the Stoa at Attalos.

  • Frantz, A. 1988. The Athenian Agora: Results of excavations conducted by the American School of Classical Studies at Athens. Vol. 24, Late antiquity: AD 267–700. Princeton, NJ: American School of Classical Studies.

    NNNAn account of the use of the area in the centuries after it ceased being the civic center.

  • Mauzy, C. A. 2006. Agora excavations, 1931–2006: A pictorial history. Athens, Greece: American School of Classical Studies at Athens.

    NNNA history of the excavations, the restorations of the Stoa of Attalos and the church of the Holy Apostles, and the landscaping of the site, extensively illustrated from the Agora archives.

  • Thompson, H. A., and R. E. Wycherley. 1972. The Athenian Agora. Vol. 14, The Agora of Athens: The history, shape and uses of an ancient city center. Princeton, NJ: American School of Classical Studies.

    NNNThe earliest full and authoritative account of the history and archaeology of the site.

  • Travlos, J. 1971. Pictorial dictionary of ancient Athens. London: Thames and Hudson.

    NNNDescriptions, with plans, photographs, and bibliographies, of the buildings of ancient Athens, including those in the Agora.

  • Wycherley, R. E. 1973. The Athenian Agora. Vol. 3, Literary and epigraphical testimonia. Princeton, NJ: American School of Classical Studies.

    NNNA compilation of texts, translations, and commentary on all ancient literary passages and inscriptions referring to the Agora and its buildings. Originally published in 1957.

back to top

Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content on this page. Please subscribe or login.

How to Subscribe

Oxford Bibliographies Online is available by subscription and perpetual access to institutions. For more information or to contact an Oxford Sales Representative click here.