A revised edition of the American School of Classical Studies at Athens?s venerable guidebook to the Athenian Agora ?The Athenian Agora: Site Guide? (5th ed., by John M. Camp II; ASCSA, 2010) has been released, providing visitors with freshly updated information on new discoveries and recent scholarship in the heart of ancient Athens.
The Athenian Agora, the ancient city?s central marketplace and meeting point, lying just north of the Acropolis, was a large, multifunctional precinct. American excavations on the site began in 1931. Since then, archaeologists have uncovered key administrative, political, judicial, religious, civic and commercial buildings, in addition to other public or private monuments and structures. The Agora excavations have focused on the Classical period (5th-4th centuries BC) but much evidence has also been revealed about earlier and later periods in the site?s occupation.
To assist visitors in navigating the extensive site and in comprehending its maze of ancient walls, the ASCSA introduced a guidebook in 1954 written by project members Mabel Lang and C.W.J. Eliot, with a forward by then project director Homer Thompson. The mid-1950s were a key period in the ancient Agora?s restoration, since the Stoa of Attalos was also completely reconstructed, access paths and other landscaping were installed, and the site once more became a public place ? as an archaeological park. The Agora guidebook was reissued through the years but received its first major overhaul only after John Camp became project director in 1994. In this latest edition (2010), Camp, who has excavated at the Agora since 1966, has retained many of the guidebook?s familiar features, including an overview of the site?s historical development and a history of the excavations but also treats the reader to a host of new details and discoveries. Omitted from the new edition, however, is the previously useful section that described the Agora Museum.
Of particular interest are results from ongoing excavations in the Agora?s northern area, where additional portions of the ancient site are at last being revealed after the demolition of overlying modern structures. Richly illustrated by photographer Craig A. Mauzy, Camp?s book also includes a large-scale site map and 73 plans of all the visible monuments.
The ASCSA?s many publications on the Athenian Agora, prepared in a variety of forms to benefit both specialists and laymen, have not only greatly illuminated daily life in ancient Athens but also have become standard reference tools for archaeologists working elsewhere, both in Greece and abroad. ?The Athenian Agora: Site Guide? is an informative, essential handbook for curious visitors tramping in the footsteps of the ancient Athenians.