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priene-The-Agora

The Agora

Right in the center of town is the Agora, the heart of commercial and political life. One first passes through a little square, lined on 3 sides by shops which sold various kinds of goods. Here, too, sellers of meat, fish, fruit and vegetables peddled their wares. A plentiful supply of water was brought to the Agora square from the Acropolis by means of small canals. This water was used by the tradesmen and was also employed to wash the market place.
Especially in the mornings, when the slaves came with their owners to buy food, the street used to hum with life. Women who had no slaves did not come to the market: their husbands came for them. The shopping of widows was also done by slaves, but if they had none they came themselves. Shopping was always the subject of endless haggling.
Next to this market-place, there is a large open space, 128×95 meters. This was the real Agora square. One side is bounded by one of the main streets of the town, the other three are lined by 31 single-storied shops. Under one of these there is a tavern, where many fragments of wine-glasses, bottles and earthenware pots have been found.
On the far side of the street to the north, on a piece of raised ground reached by staircases, there was a sacred portico, the Sacred Stoa, with double columns. The outside was decorated in the Doric, the inside in the Ionic style. Below It was the city council. Official announcements, decrees, laws and treaties concluded by the city were all posted here. The sentry posts at each end of the portico can still be seen.
There was a wide variety of statues in the Agora square. There were bronze and marble statues of kings, monuments to Hermes and Aphrodite, and monuments erected to winners in athletic contests, and benefactors. The glorious feats and honours of Prienians were inscribed on the walls. In the center was a public temple, where on behalf of the people, the ruler of the city carried out sacrifices to the gods Zeus and Hera, and performed official ceremonies.
The citizens of Priene wandered around the Agora on all kinds of business. They gossiped for hours in the barber shops, for that was where the sailors from Rhodes and the traders from the East related the latest news.

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