Agora of Priene & Sacred Stoa
Priene, Ionia, Turkey
3rd century BCE
Agora of Priene was an open place for people to meet, celebrate special days and festivals and commerce like any other Hellenistic city Agoras. So it had an important place in the daily life of ancient cities.
The Priene Agora was defined by Pausanias as being “a characteristic example of Ionic agoras.” It was built in the 3rd century BCE and has a horseshoe shape. One side is open and is surrounded, and the other side had a stoa. Both the east and west sides had 18 columns and on the south side 30 columns were constructed in the Doric style. There is a row of rooms (shops) at the rear parts of the south and west side of the stoa. The shops at the rear part of the east stoa remain in the temenos of the Asclepius Temple. From the middle part of the south side, some of the rooms were removed and this area was turned into a large hall.
The Sacred Stoa, the northernmost, was built by Ariarathes, the King of Cappadocia in the middle of the 2nd century BCE. It was 12 meters wide and 116 meters long. A 6-stepped stairway in the front opening onto the street leads to a wide gallery open to the sky. This gallery is 6.47 meters wide and had a marble-paved floor. There were benches on the east and the west side of the gallery of which one was exedra (a room in a public building furnished with seats) and the other in a horseshoe shape. The certain names from among the people of Priene were mentioned as inscriptions on the back of the seats.
The building is separated into two parts by columns. The wooden roof was supported by 49 Doric columns in the front row and 24 Ionic ones in the second row. There are fifteen rooms at the rear part; three of these are excellent stone workmanship of exedra design. R-The ninth room from the west was consecrated to the cult of Roman gods and Emperor Augustus which is understood from the inscriptions and drawings on the wall of this room. It is also understood that the Julian (Roman) calendar was begun to be used in western Anatolia in the year 9 BCE. It is believed that these rooms were used for the conversations of the State and the Athena Temple archives.
The statues in Agora in marble and bronze and created a very impressive atmosphere that represented the notabilities of the city. In ancient times there was an art gallery, but today only the bases of the statues remain and use the visitors for sitting.
The altar in the middle of the Agora was 6.20 meters long and 5.15 meters wide and dedicated to the god Hermes. The small agora is on the left of the agora which is a market place. It contains various foods, clothing, and other articles. During the excavations counters were revealed which was used for displaying the items on sale.