In this space to the west of the Acropolis some 6,000 people would gather, sit on benches or the ground and debate. One at a time people would come down front and speak to the entire assembly. (During the much of the classical era, it was not from the place pictured here - dating is controversial.)

This assembly decided on the laws and policies for the city of Athens. The role and power of the Assembly evolved over time, but during the classical era (from approximately 500 to 338 BC) this was, with brief interruptions, a democratic assembly. There was no elected president or prime minister, but, of course, some people were looked to as leaders.

Voting was by typically by show of hands. There is some evidence the assembly was divided into sections for counting, but we know very little about the exact procedures.

The topics debated certainly covered the full range of civic issues. Military matters we'd call classified were discussed as well.

bema

The speaker's platform.

Last modified 2/24/12, posted 1/30/10;. Original content © 2012, 2010 John P. Nordin