Ancient Origins IRAQ Tour

Overview of the cemetery of Kerameikos, Athens (Image: Courtesy Micki Pistorius)

Kerameikos, Restoring Athens’ Necropolis To Life

From the ruins and rubble rises the narrative of the history of Kerameikos, restoring life to the Athenian necropolis.  The obituaries on the gravestones and stelae and the sculptures on the marble sarcophagi monuments and naϊskos reflect people who mattered so much to their loved ones that their individual memories have been immortalized in stone.

Sacred Gate kouros (center) in Room 1 of the Kerameikos Archaeological Museum (

Sacred Gate kouros (center) in Room 1 of the Kerameikos Archaeological Museum (
KatherineSoulis / CC BY-SA 4.0)

Development Of Kerameikos

The Eridanos River valley bordering the north-west of ancient Athens, held the Deme of Kerameis, domain of the potters. According to mythology, Keramos was the son of the god Dionysus and Ariadne, the Minoan princess who had sailed with her lover the hero Theseus back to Athens after his defeat of the Minotaur at Knossos. However, Theseus abandoned her on the island of Naxos, where the god Dionysus had found her sleeping and wedded her. They had many children, of which Keramos was one – the etymology of the word ‘ceramics’ for pottery comes from Keramos. The Deme of Kerameis extended from the agora to the hill of the Pnyx and pottery workshops were later excavated up to the Academy of Plato.

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