Keramikos: the ancient cemetery of Athens I

By the name Kerameikos was known the area west and east of the city's wall western part. Kerameikos border from the east was the Agora (Inner Kerameikos) and from the west, outside the wall (Outer Kerameikos), was the biggest and most important cemetary. There were buried the soldiers killed in battles and the most important Athenians. The name Kerameikos was propably derived from the many pottery makers (Kerameis) that lived there.

   The two Kerameikos were divided by the western part of the city's wall that was constructed by Themistocles in 479 BCE immediately after the Persian Wars. It had a total length of 6.500 metres, height 8m, width 3m and had at least 13 gates. The most important of them were in Kerameikos. The northern and biggest one was the Dipylon. Its name was derived from its shape, eg the two rows of towers it had for best defense. Its older name was "Thriasiai Pylai" and from there begun the road that led to the Plato's Academy, Piraeus, Eleusis, and Peloponnesus.

  The city was fortified with more walls. In 459 BCE Cimon begun the construction of the Long Walls. He made the Northern and the Phalericon Walls. Between 446 and 443 BCE Pericles builds the Southern Long wall parallel to the Northern and the Phalericon was no used any more. The Long Walls connected Athens with the Piraeus. They were 6 kilometres long each and the distance between the two was almost 200 metres. Today their lines are followed exactly by Peiraios street (Northen) and a part of the metro line 1 (Southern).
     The Athenians had to destroy all their fortifications after their defeat in the Peloponnesian war. But soon, when the democracy was reestablished, Conon repaired the walls in 394 BCE.  In 338 BCE when about to face the Macedonian danger they built a smaller wall in front of the main one as an extra defense in Kerameikos. In 86 BCE, Roman general Sylla invades the city after breaching the wall in the area of Kerameikos. When the Heruli invade in 267 AD and destroy the city found the walls in desperate situation. The Athenians will never be able to rebuilt the Themistoclean wall. They will built a very small wall with the city's ruins, around Acropolis, the Postherulian wall.

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