It’s Tuesday so it’s The History Of Retail In 100 Objects post – This weeks object is The Greek Agora. By about 600 BC all cities in ancient Greece would have had an agora near their cent re.A market place as well as a meeting place, the agora was usually a rectangular space surrounded by buildings and frequented by politicians, traders, aristocrats, scientists and slaves. Along one edge was the ‘stoa’, a long covered walkway with shop s located in it, where more expensive items could be purchased than those found on the traders’ stalls. Farmers brought their produce to the agora and set up stalls selling meat, fish, fruits, vegetables, cheeses, eggs, honey, and wine. Cattle and grain were also traded, as were more exotic items such as gems, silks, wool, and, of course, slaves. A hive of activity, craftsmen would ply their trade and moneychangers and bankers would carry out their business. ‘Shopping’ at the agora was conducted by men and their household slaves, not by women. The agora was also a focus for cultural and community activity. Political debate, theatre, and musical performances would draw citizens in as they fraternised with friends and business associates. It also served as a labour exchange as employers mixed with men looking for work. Although it was a predominantly male environment, women were allowed to use the agora’s public fountains to collect water.
Contribution to Retail History
A focal point for trading and bartering, the agora is one of many examples of how even in ancient civilisations, communities instinctively drew together to share, compare, buy and sell.
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