Athens Greece

Athens the Geometric Period


In that period the Acropolis remained to be a powerful fortress for the safety of the City, but at the same time it was devoted to the gods and the patron of the City the goddess Athena. The palaces which had been built on the top of the Acropolis in the pre-Historic years stopped being used after the death of King Kodros who according to tradition self-sacrificed himself to save the City from the danger of the Dorian invasion. The Athenians in order to honour their King abolished the institution of the Monarchy because they believed that nobody else could be as capable as Kodros to succeed him. They also established in his honour the Sanctuary of Kodros at the south side of Acropolis at the position where he got killed.

Athens the Geometric Period

Since that period, the political and public life gathered at the Ancient Agora (Ancient Market) which was established as we saw by Theseus. Its formation was increased with the passing of time until the end of the 7th century BC when new public buildings were built which are made known to us by the ancient writers.

The size of the Ancient Agora is measured by the Sanctuary of Aphrodite Pandemos which is placed at the west side of the Acropolis, and by the Prytaneion which is located on the north side of the Acropolis near to the Sanctuary of Aglavros and at the beginning of the ancient street of Tripods. The area of the Ancient Agora was a large open space surrounded by buildings of various purposes such as:  The Prytaneion, the Metroon on the west side of Agora which served two purposes as it was both the Sanctuary of the Mother of the Gods and the archive building of the City, a storeroom of official records, it was used originally as the meeting chamber of the City Council and then as the Archive building, the Bouleuterion or the Boule on the west side of Agora, a building which housed the council of citizens and consisted of the citizens' representatives who assembled in order to confer and decide on public affairs,  the Peristyle Courts, as well as the famous Thiseio in where later Cimon placed Theseus bones which were brought from Skyros.

Ruins of houses have not been preserved from that era but an Ellipsoidal house of the 8th century BC which was found on the northwest edge of Areopagus (the Hill of god Ares). Also interesting is the Geometric ruins of the Temple of Apollo on the south side of the Olympieion or Temple of Olympian Zeus, the Temple of Hephaestus located to the west of the Agora, the Temple of Ares on the north of the Agora. The roads which were constructed after the first habitants and after the unity of all the counties of Attica are of major significance for the communication of the City.

It is characteristic that these roads are preserved till nowadays at the exact and original positions, their construction was compulsory upon the formation of the ground and the natural passages between the high mountains of the basin of Athens. At the side of these roads were found ruins of pre-historic settlements and tombs. The habit of burying the dead next to the roads continued into the Geometric Period as well as in the Historical Period.

In general the establishment of the City continued into the Geometric Period as it was during the Pre-Historic years. This is proven by the many wells which were found, as well as the custom to bury the dead in the district cemeteries which had been established since the Pre-Historic years. Mycenaean tombs (1100-1025BC) have been found at the Ancient Agora, Dipylon Gate, Erechtheus street as it is known nowadays and at the Olympieion area, but in general in all the pre-Historic cemeteries and other positions have been found tombs of the Geometric Period.

The tombs are box shaped and constructed of schist plaques. It also has to be mentioned that at this period Athenians used to also burn their dead. In this case they used to put the ashes into big pots and bury them later in the ground. All the tombs contained rich offerings and many pots which were indeed masterpieces, and especially the monumental pottery of Dipylon Gate which they used to place as tomb symbols upon the graves. Attica and especially Athens was a significant artistic and commercial centre with pottery workshops, since that era the City of Athens had the lead in creativity in all the arts.

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