Stoa of Attalus at Athens

January 20, 2011

Paul sent word for his traveling companions Silas and Timothy at Beroea to join him “as soon as possible” at Athens (Acts 17:15). Meanwhile, as Paul waited for them, he made effective use of the time. Acts 17:16,17 states,

Now while Paul was waiting for them at Athens, his spirit was being provoked within him as he was observing the city full of idols. So he was reasoning in the synagogue with the Jews and the God-fearing Gentiles, and in the market place every day with those who happened to be present.

Note that Paul reasoned in the market place those who happened to be present. The market place, or agora, was the civil center of Athens. This would have included the Stoa (porch), a colonnaded structure on the east side of the market place.  Social, political, legal meetings and religious and philosophical discussions took place there. Paul made use of this setting as an opportunity to teach and reason about the true God, and His will for all men.

Stoa of Attalos and Market Place (Agora) from the Areopagus. Photo by Leon Mauldin.

In our photo, taken from the Areopagos (Mars Hill) you can see the Stoa of Attalos at right center.  The ancient agora sprawled to your left. This gives the geographical context to Paul’s discussions in the Athenian marketplace, with “those who happened to be present.”

Attalos II was king of Pergamum 159-138 BC. It was he who first built the Stoa.

Stoa of Attalos. Consisted of two stories. Photo Leon Mauldin.

 

The Stoa was 385 feet in length and consisted of two stories. It housed 21 shops on each floor. Again, this would have been the site for Athenians to meet, walk, and to do business.

Stoa of Attalos at Athens. Photo by Leon Mauldin.

Here is a view of the Stoa showing first floor level. Restoration of the Stoa was carried out in 1953-1956 by the American school of Classical Studies with the financial support of John D. Rockefeller, Jr.

Click on images for higher resolution.


Miletus Agora, Two Views

April 22, 2010

At the biblical site of Miletus one can view the agora (market place). Looking across you can see the ionic stoa, a public building; to the right you can see the ruins of the Roman Nymphaeum (fountain).

Miletus Agora and Public Building. Photo by Leon Mauldin.

The photo above was taken in summer 2006.  Our photo below (March 2010) shows the same area with the agora under water.

Miletus Agora Under Water. Photo by Leon Mauldin.

More to come on Miletus.


Ephesus: Library and Agora

April 15, 2010

One of the more impressive sites at Ephesus is the Celsus Library.  It was originally built in A.D. 110, by Consul Gaius Julius Aquila, in honor of his father, Gaius Julius Celsu Polemaeanus, governor of Asia A.D. 105-107.

Some suggest that the school of Tynannus may have been located to your left (Acts 19:9).
Next we look at the commercial agora (market place), where the craftsmen, including silversmiths and others, would have had their shops.
Apparently it would have been in this area, for example, where Demitrius the silversmith worked.  Luke tells what happened in Acts 19:
24 For a man named Demetrius, a silversmith who made silver shrines of Artemis, brought a great deal of business to the craftsmen. 25 He gathered these together, along with the workmen in similar trades, and said, “Men, you know that our prosperity comes from this business. 26 And you see and hear that this Paul has persuaded and turned away a large crowd, not only in Ephesus but in practically all of the province of Asia, by saying that gods made by hands are not gods at all. 27 There is danger not only that this business of ours will come into disrepute, but also that the temple of the great goddess Artemis will be regarded as nothing, and she whom all the province of Asia and the world worship will suffer the loss of her greatness.” (NET)
One lesson which continues to be reinforced as we visit biblical sites is the reliability of the scriptures.  Always remember that the Bible deals with real people, real places, and real events.  The Bible is fact, not fiction!