- Richard Allan Tomlinson
ExtractGreek term for an area where people gather together, most particularly for the political functions of the *polis, normally sited centrally in cities (as at *Priene), or at least central to the street lines where the actual centre may be occupied by other features (such as the Acropolis at Athens); the area was sacred, and could be treated like a *temenos. In unplanned cities its shape depends on the nature of the available site, irregular at Athens, on low-lying ground bordered by rising land to west (the Kolonos Agoraios) and south (the slopes of the Acropolis). In planned cities the required number of blocks in the regular grid plan are allocated, giving a strictly rectangular shape. (See land division (greek); urbanism (greek and hellenistic).)Architecturally, the agora need be no more than the space defined by marker stones rather than buildings, as, originally, at Athens. When spectacular buildings develop for the various functions of the agora, they are placed along the boundary, which they help to define, rather than in the agora space. These include lawcourts, offices, and meeting-places for officials (and the formal feasting which was part of their office). These may be integrated with extended porticoes—*stoas—and it is these that come to dominate the architecture of the agora, often with long lines of rooms behind them, though not infrequently as colonnades pure and simple.
- Greek Material Culture