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Athenian Agora - The Metroon

agora plan metroonIn the Hellenistic period, around 140 BC, a new building called the 'Metroon' (after 'Meter' the mother of the gods), was built along the west side of the Agora.

It occupied the site of a much smaller sanctuary of Meter (burnt by the Persians in 480/479 BC) and of the Old Bouleterion ('Senate House'), which during the preceding 275 years had served as the city's archive.

The new Metroon's distinctive, massive foundations of red-brown stone are clearly visible. The new Metroon consisted of four rooms, with a row of Ionic columns on the facade facing the Agora and, like its predecessor the Old Bouleterion, combined a function as sanctuary for Meter and state archive. Here were kept documents recording laws, decrees, lawsuits, financial records, lists of votive offerings, weights and measures.

Pausanias saw a seated, gold and ivory statue of the Mother and ascribed it to the great sculptor Pheidias. (Other sources think it may have been done by his pupil Agorakritos.) The second room from the south is usually restored as the sanctuary, the northern one as an office, while the other rooms may have served as archives. A fragment of a mosaic floor is much later and dates to the 5th century AD.

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