For Athens and Attica in general, the 7th cent BC is a period of retrenchment, recession and ultimately decline, accompanied by an important deterioration in the standards of material culture, and most probably by an acute dwindling of the population, as can be gathered from the small number of burials dated to this period. It is not coincidental that historical sources connect this period with a state of generalized disorder, insurrection and social strife among the affluent classes and the free farmers and artisans, a situation which prevented Athens from entering a phase of growth and expansion, as, for example, was the case with the cities of Argos, Corinth, Chalkis and Sparta. Some historians have also argued that during this period Athens was plagued by a protracted drought, which obviously brought about the shrinkage of agricultural production and the violence of social conflict.
The situation in the area of the Agora is very similar to that of the Geometric period, but the practice of using this area as burial grounds is gradually abandoned. This change may in fact be attributable to demographic dwindling and consequently to the limited number of burials. It is a fact, however, that for the 7th cent. BC we have scarce testimonies for the Agora area. The uninterrupted use of certain family burial enclosures mentioned for the Late Geometric period, though, indicates that any changes occurred gradually.
During the 6th cent. BC, the area of the Agora enters a new phase. Though there are no hard-and-fast indications for its organized administrative use from the time of Solon (594 BC), sites formerly taken up by Geometric residences are cleared and levelled. The area of the Acropolis is now being used for various public ceremonies, and this fact affected the spaces of the Agora giving rise to such developments. Some scholars also accept that the first arrangement of the Agora area as a place were the city’s political life unfolded was due to the establishment of Great Panathenaea in 566 BC. During the Classical period, the grand procession in which these festivities culminated traversed the Agora, and there is no indication to the contrary for the Archaic period.
The end of the Archaic period is marked by the fall of the Peisistratidae tyranny and the installation of a democratic polity in Athens. Democracy emerged through a process of conflict between the two major political groups: these were the aristocrats and their followers, and the demos, the multitude of the free citizens, which in the aftermath of the expulsion of the tyrants from Athens (510 BC) did not posses full political rights. Isagoras, a nobleman who enjoyed the military support of the Spartan king Cleomenes, was electedeponymous archon; the king had intervened militarily expelling Hippias and his followers from Athens, bringing thus an end to the        fifty-year tyranny of the Peisistratidae family.
Cleisthenes, a member of the Alcmaeonid family, appeared as a protector of the demos and proposed a series of reforms, through which the aristocratic polity was transformed into a democracy. Isagoras and Cleomenes reacted. Cleisthenes was exiled, and a further 700 families soon followed. When, however, Isagoras attempted to replace the boule with a body comprised of 300 of his supporters, its members reacted and called the people to arms. The insurgents expelled the Spartans and repatriated Cleisthenes and the other exiled citizens. The people (the demos) were triumphant in history’s first political revolution.
The changes were cataclysmic: in 507 BC Athens defeats the combined forces of all its enemies (Euboeans, Boetians and Peloponnesians); in 500 BC, the city lays the foundations of its future thalassocracy by gaining control of Lemnos and the sea routes to the Black Sea; in 499-494 BC it decides to succour its Ionian kinsmen who had revolted against the Persians; and in 490 BC the city defeats the Persian army in the battle of Marathon. During this period, the recently established democracy undertakes an extensive edification project, which was to be left unfinished due to the eruption of the Persian Wars and the city’s destruction by Xerxes’ troops. Extensive works are being carried out on the southern slope of the Acropolis and the Agora area, but unfortunately we are not always in a position to discern their traces.
Some early buildings (C and D), which may have had a public as well as a private function, date to this period and are located in the SW corner of the Agora, which diachronically served as an administrative centre. In general, though, the Agora area continues to accommodate pottery and bronze-working workshops. At the same time, the first structures of a religious function make their appearance, like the Altar of the Twelve Gods, the Altar of Aphrodite Ourania and the Aiakeion; there are also administrative buildings (the Old Bouleuterion) as well as an important fountain structure, the Southeast Fountain (which is sometimes confused with the Enneakrounos). Some of these buildings are associated with the Peisistratidae tyranny, while others (the Aiakeion, the Old Bouleuterion) should be attributed to the democracy established by Cleisthenes after 507 BC. 

The site of the city’s Archaic marketplace is to be found at another location. The discovery of the true site of the Aglaurion on the western slope of the Acropolis, contrary to the archaeologists’ expectations, occasioned a series of papers in the 1990s, which refocused speculation as to the city’s early administrative centre. The Ancient Agora, as it is now customarily called, must have functioned as a civic administrative centre until the late 6th cent. BC.

The project "Virtual Reality Digital Collection 'The Ancient Agora of Athens'" has been co-funded in a percentage of 80% by the European Regional Development Fund and in a percentage of 20% by state funds in the framework of the Operational Programme "Information Society" of the 3rd Community Support Framework.

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