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The Archaeology of Athens

The Archaeology of Athens

Copyright Date: 2001
Published by: Yale University Press
Pages: 352
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  • Book Info
    The Archaeology of Athens
    Book Description:

    The monuments of ancient Athens and Attica give eloquent testimony to the enduring legacy of Greek civilization. In this book, a leading authority on the archaeology of this area presents a survey of the monuments-first chronologically and then site by site-creating the definitive work on the subject.John M. Camp begins with a comprehensive narrative history of the monuments from the earliest times to the sixth century A.D. Drawing on literary and epigraphic evidence, including Plutarch's biographies, Pausanias's guidebook, and thousands of inscriptions, he discusses who built a given structure, when, and why. Camp presents dozens of passages in translation, allowing the reader easy access to the variety and richness of the ancient sources. In effect, this main part of the book provides an engrossing history of ancient Athens as recorded in its archaeological remains. The second section of the book offers in-depth discussions of individual sites in their physical context, including accounts of excavations in the modern era. Written in a clear and engaging style and lavishly illustrated, Camp's archaeological tour of Athens is certain to appeal not only to scholars and students but also to visitors to the area.

    eISBN: 978-0-300-13815-3
    Subjects: Archaeology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-viii)
  3. Preface
    (pp. ix-xii)

    • 1 Introduction The Physical Setting
      (pp. 3-10)

      Ancient Athens consisted of the city itself and the large triangular peninsula known as Attica, which juts southward into the Aegean Sea. In antiquity Attica was settled with numerous villages and towns (demes), whose inhabitants were full citizens of the Athenian state. The city of Athens sits on a large coastal plain in northwest Attica, surrounded by mountains. Running through the plain in a northeast-southwest orientation is a long limestone ridge. Near its southwest end, this ridge comprises the Acropolis, a steep-sided, freestanding crag which became the citadel and primary sanctuary of the Classical city. The ridge ends at the...

    • 2 The Prehistoric Period
      (pp. 11-20)

      For the earliest history of Athens we rely on the results of archaeological exploration, supplemented by the myths and legends familiar to the Athenians of later times. The land of Attica has been inhabited since at least the Upper Paleolithic period (30,000–10,000 B.C.), when humans hunted and gathered their food. Early traces from this time have been found in the Kitsos cave near Laureion and in chance finds elsewhere of early stone tools. Sometime around 6000 B.C. the Neolithic period began with the introduction of cultivated grains and domesticated animals. These new advances appear in Greece relatively quickly, and...

    • 3 Early and Archaic Athens
      (pp. 21-58)

      The grim picture of Athens provided by the archaeological evidence suggests that recovery during the Dark Ages was slow and gradual. As few architectural remains survive, almost all our information comes from wells and graves. Other than a few bronzes and, later, some iron tools and weapons, pottery is the main survival from these difficult centuries (1100–750 B.C.). The pots are decorated in a distinctive style, with painted geometric designs. There is no contemporary written evidence, either literary or documentary, to supplement the archaeological record.

      The numbers of wells and graves increase from the tenth to the eighth century,...

    • 4 Classical Athens
      (pp. 59-160)

      After the Persian Wars the Athenians returned to rebuild their shattered city. The first concern was a new defensive wall, which was built despite Spartan opposition. Themistokles held the Spartans off with foot-dragging diplomacy, having instructed the Athenians in the meantime,

      [that they should raise] the wall to such a height as was absolutely necessary for defense; and that the whole population of the city—men, women, and children—should take part in the wall building, sparing neither private nor public edifice that would in any way help to further the work, but demolish them all. (Thucydides 1.90.3)

      Thucydides describes...

    • 5 Hellenistic Athens
      (pp. 161-182)

      The relative prosperity and peace of Lykourgan Athens came to an end after the death of Alexander the Great in 323. His conquest of Asia led to the eventual spread of Greek culture from Spain to India during the Hellenistic period. Greek language, architecture, and social values were to be found all over this vast area as Alexander’s conquests were divided up among his generals and others—Antigonos, Lysimachos, Polyperchon, Cassander, Seleukos, Ptolemy, and Philetairos—into a group of monarchies controlling large amounts of territory. To balance this new political development, individual city-states in Greece were forced to form themselves...

    • 6 Roman Athens
      (pp. 183-222)

      Rome had been drawn into the internal conflicts between Greece and the successors of Alexander as early as the late third century B.C. Twice, in 197 and 168 B.C., the Romans had squashed a rising tide of Macedonian conquest. Finally, in 146 B.C., the Roman general Mummius smashed the power of the Achaian league and leveled the city of Corinth. Thereafter, Greece was ruled as if it were a Roman province. Archaeologically, there is nothing to mark that date in Athens: the Athenians did not suddenly start building with baked bricks, speaking Latin, or wearing togas. It seems clear that...

    • 7 Late Roman Athens
      (pp. 223-238)

      As the Roman Empire began its decline late in the second century A.D., Athens suffered as well. Barbarian raids in Greece are attested to as early as the second century after Christ, with an attack by the Costobocs mentioned by Pausanias (10.34.5) and in inscriptions (IGII² 3411 and 3639). Other invaders were in northern Greece by the 250s, and there is a reference to repairs of the old circuit wall of the city during the reign of Valerian. Athens itself was first devastated during a raid by the Herulians in 267. Coming out of the Black Sea and terrorizing...

    • Epilogue
      (pp. 239-244)

      The later history of Athens is of interest not only on its own terms but also because of its impact on the antiquities of the city. As we have seen, the plunder of early monuments for later building projects dates back to ancient times; in Athens the process began as early as the Persian Wars. The barbarian incursions of late antiquity also had a devastating impact on many Athenian monuments, starting with the Herulians in 267 A.D. and continuing with the Visigoths in 395, the Vandals in the second half of the fifth century, and the Slavs in 582–583....


    • Athens
      (pp. 247-270)

      The archaeology of Athens encompasses more than a century of excavation and scholarship. Beyond the study of standing monuments, there have been systematic excavations of many other areas for decades. In addition, the rapid development of the modern city has required hundreds of rescue digs, carried out by the Archaeological Service under restraints of time, money, and logistics. Included here is a general bibliography of the archaeology of Athens, which will lead the reader to the thousands of specialized studies available; this is followed by a brief account, discussion, separate bibliography, and notes about some of the principal areas of...

    • Attica
      (pp. 271-318)

      Attica, the territory of ancient Athens, was divided in the historical period into 139 demes (see figs. 7, 39). Many of these demes were districts or neighborhoods within the city itself, but others were separate settlements scattered throughout the countryside. Each had its own administration and civic organizations, and at the local level each passed decrees and built buildings independently. The demes also sent representatives for the administration of Athens as a whole. Proportional representation was an essential element of Athenian democracy; thus we can determine the relative size of each deme by the number of representatives it provided to...

    • Border Areas
      (pp. 319-327)

      The town of Eleutherai lay on the northwest frontier of Athens (see fig. 146). At times it belonged to Boiotia and at times to Athens, according to both Strabo and Pausanias:

      Eleutherai is nearby, which some say belongs to Attica, others to Boiotia. (Strabo 9.2.31)

      Beyond Eleusis, in the direction of Boiotia, the Athenian territory marches with the Plataian. Formerly Eleutherai was the limit of Boiotia on the side of Attica, but when the Eleutherians cast in their lot with Athens, Kithairon became the boundary of Boiotia. The accession of Eleutherai to Athens was the result not of conquest but...

  6. Abbreviations
    (pp. 328-328)
  7. Illustration Credits
    (pp. 329-329)
  8. Index
    (pp. 330-340)