The excavations at the Ancient Agora of Athens, which began in 1931, undoubtedly represent the greatest contribution made by the American School of Classical Studies (ASCS) to Greek archaeology.
Excavations have led to the discovery of some 160,000-odd items dating from Neolithic times to the 19th century. The School also reconstructed the Stoa of Attalos and turned it into a museum in 1956.
Nowadays, despite the financial crisis that has particularly hit culture and every sort of scientific research, the ASCS keeps doing its great job and the director of the ASCS, Jack Davis recently announced that the first floor of the Stoa, which has been closed for the past 30 years, will be opened to the public in mid-May.
Archaeological research has revealed that the ancient shopping mall was built in 150 BC by Attalos II, King of Pergamon, who donated it to Athens.
The opening of the first floor of the Stoa is part of an initiative for the revival of the Ancient Agora run jointly by the ASCS, the Culture Ministry and the First Ephorate of Antiquities. The project has a total budget of 964,000 Euros and is co-funded by the European Union and the Public Investment Program of the Greek Development Ministry.
Once the first floor of the Stoa opens to the public, it will host an exhibition of sculptures and artifacts found during excavations at the Ancient Agora, representing Athenian art from the Late Classical, Hellenistic and Roman periods. The 56 objects that comprise the permanent exhibition are a rare treat as they have never been shown to the public before.
The Stoa of Attalos and the forthcoming exhibition of the findings are expected to boost the visits to the ancient Agora of Athens.