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The Athenian Agora Intro Page 4

site palnThe Archaic buildings in the Agora were almost completely destroyed during the Persian invasion of 480/479 BC. When the Athenians returned to their shattered city the Agora was one of the first areas to be rebuilt. Significant work was done in the years from 480 to 470 BC under the leadership of Kimon, son of Miltiades and himself an important general. In his time, a number of new buildings were erected in the Agora, such as the Tholos and the Painted Stoa.

Kimon himself was responsible for the setting up of three Herms and for the beautification of the central part of the Agora by the planting of plane trees. These activities form the prelude to a ‘building boom’ that set in after ca. 450 BC. Athens was now at the height of her power: her democracy was developing, her overseas Empire expanding and, as the most important city-state of the Greek world, she was attracting throngs of scholars, artists, craftsmen and merchants.

Much money was spent on the rebuilding of the sanctuaries that had been burned and looted by the Persians, both in Athens itself and in the rest of Attica. This went somewhat at the expense of building activities in the Agora. Nevertheless, though the Agora was no longer the prime focus, new buildings were added and old ones refurbished in the course of the 5th and the 4th centuries BC.

These were concentrated along the east, south and west side, leaving the central area of the Agora open to provide space for gatherings, athletic contests and theatrical performances. The most important new constructions are, in chronological order, the Temple of Hephaistos and Athena, the State Prison, the New Bouleterion, the Stoa of Zeus, the Mint, the Temple of Apollo Patroos and the Monument of the Eponymous Heroes.

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