Encyclopedia of Global Archaeology

2014 Edition
| Editors: Claire Smith

Agora in the Greek World

  • Astrid LindenlaufEmail author
Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4419-0465-2_1428


The word “agora” derives from the ancient Greek term ageirein, meaning “to gather together” and is attested as early as the eighth century BCE. It is commonly translated as “assembly,” “assembly place,” and “market place.” The agora was a crucial component of all Greek villages and towns across the Mediterranean. According to Herodotus (1.153), the Persian king Cyrus II conceived of the agora as the single most defining characteristic of an urban settlement. For Homer (Od. 9.112-5), the agora was not only a constituent part of an urban environment but also signified a form of order and civilization, since he characterized a community without one, such as that of the Cyclopes, as lawless (Od. 9.106). The emergence of the agora has been linked with the birth of the Greek polis (city-state). Antonaccio (1997: 170-80) regards the agora, alongside other features including monumental temples and the council house, as an indicator for urbanization. Civic requirements –...

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Classical and Near Eastern ArchaeologyBryn Mawr CollegeBryn MawrUSA