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The Kerameikos is the name of the deme or part of Athens to the northwest of the Acropolis and includes an extensive area both within and outside the city walls, on both sides of the Dipylon Gate and by the banks of the Eridanos River.

The "inner Kerameikos" was the former "potter's quarter" of the city and the "outer Kerameikos" covers the cemetery and the also the "demosion sema" (a public burial monument) where Pericles delivered his funeral oration in 431 BC. The cemetery was also where the Iera Odos (the Sacred Way, i.e. the road to Eleusis) began, along which the procession moved for the Eleusinian Mysteries.

A plague pit and approximately 1000 tombs from the 4th and 5th century BC were discovered during excavations for a subway station just outside the cemetery. Thucydides describes the panic caused by the plague, possibly an epidemic of typhoid which struck the besieged city of Athens in 430 BC, lasting for two years and killing one third of the population. He wrote that bodies were abandoned in temples and streets, to be subsequently collected and hastily buried. The disease reappeared in the winter of 427 BC. The Greek archaeologist Efi Baziotopoulou-Valavani, who excavated the site, has dated the grave to between 430 and 426 BC.


Kerameikos, Hellenic Ministry of Culture

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