Roman agora
Classics 175D :  Topography & Monuments: Athens
Course Catalog No: 33082
Nikolaos Papazarkadas
1:00 - 2:00

From Neolithic hamlet to democratic superpower, and from obscure Ottoman town to capital of modern Greece, Athens has been inhabited continuously for almost 5,000 years. Although such famous architectural creations as the Parthenon never disappeared from sight, numerous systematic and rescue excavations carried out from the early 19th century onwards mean that Athens is one of the best investigated cities of the ancient world. In this course we will trace Athens’ development from its humble beginnings, focusing in particular on the period from ca. 700 BCE (rise of the polis; composition of Homeric epics) down to the 6th century CE and the decline of the last philosophical schools under the Emperor Justinian. Students will be introduced to the urban archaeology of the city as well as to that of its hinterland, Attica. They will be shown both the monumental and the inconspicuous facets of the city: grandiose temples on the Acropolis and rural sanctuaries throughout the Attic countryside, massive fortification walls and nondescript houses, administrative buildings and public roads. Knowledge of Athenian history will be an important objective, on the understanding that familiarity with the topography of the city can provide an ideal framework for interpreting the cultural, both literary and material, output of Athens. To that effect, translated written sources will be used extensively, especially Pausanias’ Description of Attica, even though, just as in the case of related courses (e.g. Classics 175D: Pompeii and Herculaneum) the emphasis will be on the visual aspect. Among other things, participants will be expected to read and understand maps and architectural plans, to identify monuments on the basis of photos and drawings, and to demonstrate their ability to analyze and interpret archaeological issues related to Athens, from the location of the Archaic Agora to the identification of the prison of Socrates. Students will leave this course ready to visit the city of Athens, its numerous archaeological sites and museums, with cultural and archaeological literacy, and even equipped to participate in archaeological digs, if they wish to do so.