The Persian occupation of Athens in 480-479 BC caused extensive destruction, and nowhere is this more evident than on the Acropolis. Almost all the Acropolis wells were sealed with pottery dating to the period of 500-480 BC. After 480 BC, Themistocles and later Cimon make preparations for the creation of a new administrative centre for Athens.
At the start of the Classical period (479 BC), after the withdrawal of the Persians, the Agora must have presented a sorry sight: it was nothing more than a series of ruined buildings which had suffered irreparable damages during the occupation by the Persian troops. The buildings of the west side, in particular, had been destroyed root and branch.
After a reasonable period of time, the city began erecting a series of administrative and religious buildings. The Tholos was built in c.465 BC, to provide lodgings for the prytaneis: the New Bouleuterion takes over the functions of the older one, which is turned into an state archive depository and a place of worship of the Mother of Gods. Building activities intensify on the north side as well: the Stoa Basileios is rebuilt using the original material of 550-500 BC. Something similar happens in the case of the Altar of the Twelve Gods, which was probably reconstructed shortly after 480 BC. The famous Stoa Poikile is built by Peisianax, Cimon’s son-in-law, and is adorned with remarkable paintings by Polygnotos, Micion and Panainos.
New buildings are gradually erected in the east and south sides of the Agora as well. The buildings of the east side, simple enclosures, were probably used for judiciary purposes. Around 430 BC, on the contrary, the South Stoa Ι is built, which was used as a communal diners.Other buildings of this period are the Stoa of Zeus Eleutherios and the Mint. The area is affected by Pericles’ building project, with the construction of the famous temple of Hephaestus and Athena Ergane, the so-called ‘Theseion’, shortly after 450 BC. Thus, key public buildings of a legislative, judiciary, administrative, or military function become concentrated in west side of the Agora, while the south side accommodates structures related to the city’s economic life.
After the middle of the 5th cent. BC, the Agora of Athens becomes organised as the administrative centre of a democracy, which was simultaneously the heart of a hegemony. The grandeur of the Acropolis buildings is not matched by those in the area of the Agora. In very few cases some monuments do stand out for their luxuriousness, like, for example, the Stoa of Zeus Eleutherios.
A series of changes are observed during the last years of the 5th cent. BC, when several monuments are altered or destroyed: such, for example, is the case with the Tholos, the Old Bouleuterion, and the law courts beneath the Stoa of Attalos. Most changes relate to the dramatic events which followed the oligarchic coup of 411 BC, Athens’ final defeat by the Spartans in 404 BC and the Tyranny of the Thirty.
Building activity in Athens is renewed around the mid-4th century BC. Notwithstanding the difficulties the city faces on a political level and the complications which ensued from its defeat in the Peloponnesian War, Athenian economy is booming during this century. The city enters new glory days during the period when the orator Lycurgus is in control of Athenian fates; he adorned the city, and the Agora in particular, with a number of luxurious buildings. The temple of Apollo Patrōos, the Square Peristyle, the new version of the Monument of the Twelve Heroes, the Armoury, all these are constructed during this phase when the city still maintains its autonomy.

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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