The world of employment in ancient Athens

The world of employment in ancient Athens

The study of the past is often dominated by stories of so-called “big people,” all-powerful monarchs, generals, and statesmen who ruled over the lives of the many. But without studying the everyday lives of the “ordinary people” under their control, we miss an enormous piece of the historical puzzle.

When people think of ancient Athens, they often think of the great Pericles, or the philosophers Socrates or Plato. But what of the butchers, bakers, carpenters, and money changers? What was everyday life like for them? And what of the myriad others who played a role in the day-to-day running of the city’s economy?

In its latest initiative, the Acropolis Museum in Athens is hosting a special gallery tour that will explore just that: the world of employment in ancient Athens. To bring the working lives of the ancient Athenians back to life, the museum’s curators have designed a new thematic section in the Archaic Gallery, based around three ceramic vases on loan from the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston.

The painted scenes on these exceptionally well-preserved vases each narrate stories about the jobs and occupations of ordinary Athenians. Who were they? What were their professions, and how did they practice them? What was their social status? And in what ways did they contribute the social, economic, and political changes of the time?

Every Sunday from February 5 to July 30, hour-long guided tours of the section will be hosted by the museum’s archaeologists, who will not only describe the jobs and working conditions of the ordinary citizens of ancient Athens, but also discuss the extraordinary artists and ceramicists behind the creation of the three vases.    

Each tour is limited to 30 people at a time, first-in, first-served. An admission ticket to the museum is required for adults, while children go for free. Read about ticket prices and museum opening times here.

Tours will be conducted in English at 11.00 a.m., and in Greek at 1 p.m.

For more information, visit the Acropolis Museum website.

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