The American School of Classical Studies has been excavating in the area of the Athenian Agora since 1931, bringing to light the history of the area over a period of 5000 years. Finds range from scattered pieces of pottery of the late Neolithic period (ca. 3000 BC) to the contents of 19th and early 20th century basements. The Agora of the 5th and 4th centuries BC has been the main focus of attention. Scholars have identified the often scanty material remains on the basis of ancient references to the Agora as the center of civic activity of ancient Athens. Public documents inscribed on stone, weight and measure standards, and jurors’ identification tickets and ballots reflect the administrative nature of the site, while traces of private dwellings in the area immediately bordering the open square, with their household pottery and other small finds, throw light on the everyday lives of Athenian citizens.
After the initial phase of excavation, the area was landscaped and the Hellenistic Stoa of Attalos was rebuilt to serve as museum and workspace. The reconstruction, under the authority of the Department of Restorations of the Greek Ministry of Education, was paid for by American donors. Excavations at the Athenian Agora by the American School are ongoing.
The Athenian Agora Excavations and Study Center are funded by the American School of Classical Studies at Athens, with major support from numerous foundations, institutions, and individuals. The work of excavating began in the 1930’s with the substantial support of John D. Rockefeller, who also funded the reconstruction of the Stoa of Attalos (1953-1956) to serve as the site museum with storage facilities. In recent years the work has been supported by the David and Lucile Packard Foundation and the Packard Humanities Institute. Other key supporters include the Samuel H. Kress Foundation, the Ford Foundation, the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH), the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, Princeton University, Stavros Niarchos Foundation, and Randolph-Macon College, among others. Millions of dollars have been provided in support of the excavation, restoration, research, and publication of one of the most productive archaeological projects in the Mediterranean basin. In recent years the Packard Humanities Institute has also collaborated in a large project to digitize the vast collection of antiquities and archives stored in the Stoa of Attalos, a project supplemented by grants from the European Economic Area (EEA) and the Gladys Krieble Delmas Foundation.