The Acropolis and the area of the Agora were inhabited continuously from the Neolithic Age (5th millennium BC). During the Mycenaean period (13th century BC) the Acropolis became the seat of a ruler. A stepped passage to the subterranean fountain was constructed and the rock was fortified with a mighty Cyclopean wall. The houses of the settlement and the graves were on the slopes, mainly in the area of the ancient Agora.
The Kerameikos cemetery, indicative of an organized polis, was arranged during the 12th-11th century BC.
The city's religious centre was on the fortified hill of the Acropolis, where building activity began in the 8th century BC and continued until the Roman era. Its zenith was in the 5th century BC. On its summit, among the foundations of other structures and monuments, three temples have survived, each one a landmark in ancient Greek architecture: the Doric Parthenon (447-438 BC, with its famous sculpted decoration on the metopes, frieze and pediments), where the Panathenaic procession ended and where the statue of Athena Parthenos as well as the city's 'treasury' were housed; the Ionic amphiprostyle temple of Athena Nike (421-415 BC); the peculiar Erechtheion articulated in two sections with the porch of the Karyatids (421-405 BC). Of the other important buildings the monumental Propylaia (with Doric and Ionic columns, 437-432 BC) still stand and the foundations can be seen of various sacred (temples of Zeus Polieus, Pandion, Brauronian Artemis, Pandemos Aphrodite, Roma and Augustus) and secular edifices (Pinakotheke, Chalkotheke), parts of the Classical fortification and a host of bases from all manner of ex-votos. On the south side of the Acropolis are the Theatre of Dionysos (mid-4th century BC) and the Roman Odeum of Herodes Atticus (AD 160-174), together with remains of buildings such as the Odeion of Pericles (mid-5th century BC), the Asklepieion (419-415 BC), the Stoa of Eumenes II (197-159 BC) and others.
Architectural sculptures and statues found on the top of the hill and its slopes are exhibited in the Acropolis Museum.
W of the Acropolis is the hill of the Areopagus, seat of the Athenian supreme court, and the hill of the Muses with the structures of the Pnyx, that is the place where the Ekklesia of the deme assembled. On the top of this hill is the Roman monument of Gaius Julius Antiochus Philopappus (AD 114-116).
The Agora was the administrative and political centre of the city. Of the host of buildings revealed in excavation we mention the Stoa of Zeus Eleutherios, the Royal (Basileios) Stoa, the Bouleuterion, the Tholos (Prytaneion), the Altar of the Twelve Gods, the Metroon, the temples of Apollo Patroos and Ares, the Eleusineion, the Stoa of Attalos, the Roman Gymnasium and the Odeum of Agrippa. The Agora Museum in the restored Stoa of Attalos houses finds from various parts of the Agora, presenting a picture of many aspects of public and private life in ancient Athens. Dominating the hill of Agoraios Kolonos is one of the best preserved Classical Doric temples, the Hephaisteion (popularly known as the Theseion, 449-444 BC).
In the 1st century BC the Roman emperor Augustus founded the Roman agora, to the E of the Greek Agora, in order to serve commercial needs. It includes a hypostyle court with porticoes, monumental propyla and other areas. Here stands the Horologion of Kyrrhestos (second half of 1st century BC), popularly known as the 'Tower of the Winds'.
The largest and best organized cemetery was at Kerameikos, on the NW outskirts of the city. Two main gates in the city wall, the Dipylon and the Sacred Gate, facilitated communication between Inner and Outer Kerameikos. Many funerary monuments have been revealed here, public and private, as well as dwellings and potters' workshops, and a building for ceremonial assemblies, the Pompeion. Very recently part of the Demosion Sema (Cemetery of the Deme), where many distinguished Athenians are known to have been buried, has been uncovered (graves in the Metaxourgeion neighbourhood).
There were several sanctuaries in the area of the river Ilissos, such as those of Delphinian Apollo, Herakles Pankrates, Kronos and Rhea. The unfinished yet magnificent temple of Olympian Zeus (begun by Peisistratos c. 530 BC, continued in the 2nd century BC and completed by Hadrian in the 2nd century AD) survives to this day, as does Hadrian's Arch (AD 131/2) and the all-marble Panathenaic Stadium, which was restored in 1896 on the occasion of the first modern Olympic Games (first built c. 330 BC, rebuilt by Herodes Atticus in AD 140).
Noteworthy among the individual monuments dispersed throughout the modern urban web are the choregic monument of Lysikrates (335/4 BC) in ancient Tripodon street, Hadrian's Library (AD 131/2) and the area of Plato's Academy. Recent rescue excavations in Rigillis street have revealed large parts of the Lykeion (Lyceum), that is the philosophical school founded by Aristotle (4th century BC). Over the last few years a host of antiquities of all kinds and periods have been uncovered in various places, in the course of constructing the Athens Metro.
Athens maintained its reputation as an intellectual centre until the abolition of its schools of philosophy and rhetoric by Justinian I (AD 529). In AD 395 the city was threatened by the Goths under Alarich. In the 5th century ancient public buildings were renovated and new ones founded. Justinian I carried out radical repairs of the city wall. Remains of a building in honour of Arkadios and Honorios, sons of Emperor Theodosius I (c. 500) have been found in the area of the ancient Agora and S of the Odeum of Herodes Atticus, as well ruins of a gymnasium, private educational institutions (early 5th century), wells and watermills (early 6th century). A villa with mosaic floor has been uncovered in the National Garden (second half of 5th century). From the mid-5th century the pagan sanctuaries were converted into Christian churches. The ruins of many Early Christian churches have survived: the basilica of Saint Luke on the site now occupied by the homonymous church in Patisia, the Ilissos basilica, dedicated to Saint Leonidis (the most important Early Christian church in Athens, first half of 5th century), the 'Tetraconch' in the court of Hadrian's Library (first half of 5th century, converted into a three-aisled basilica in the early 6th century), the basilicas in the Olympieion, the National Garden, of Klematios, the Theatre of Dionysos, the Asklepieion and elsewhere.
A rich collection of mosaic pavements, Early Christian sculptures and other works of art of this period are exhibited in the Byzantine Museum.
[Judith Binder: Athenai: place-name: Iliad 2.546, 549; Od. 3.278, 307; Od. 7.80; Od. 11.323; Paus. 1.1.5 et passim; see Neai Athenai; Novae Athenae; Setines]Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Classical_AthensWikidata ID: Q844930Trismegistos Geo: 364Manto: 8188815
Info: Archaeological Atlas of the Aegean
(Archaeological Atlas of the Aegean, Ministry of the Aegean)