Ekklesiasterion


Upper Agora. Poggio San Nicola

In the area of the hillock of St. Nicholas, in the ’60s, site excavations brought to light a theatre-shaped cavea for meetings which was identified with the ekklesiasterion (the seat of the ekklesia or assembly of all free citizens), the first non – religious monument of ancient Akragas to be discovered.

The building found during the conctruction of the Archaeological Museum is located in front of the late Hellenistic prostyle temple better known as “Oratory of Phalaris,” and is partially superimposed.

The cavea, hewn out of a gently sloping bank of tufa rock, looks towards the hill of temples and the sea with an orientation aimed at obtaining the maximum possible exposure to light, from east to west. The building has a geometrical shape in a semicircle, the ends of wich are prolonged, with the same radius of the orchestra, thus obtaining 6/8 of the entire circumference. This excessive closure of the wings allowed archaeologists to rule out, without doubt, that this building was a theater.

This structure demonstrates the existence of a popular assembly which was convened in plenary session (4000 people approx). These features have suggested similarities with other assemblies in the Western Greek world and in particular with the ekklesia mentioned by Diodorus Siculus (Biblioteca Storica XIV, 44.5) for the year 398 BC in Reggio.

According to considerations based on excavation data and stratigraphy scholars date this ekklesiasterion somewhere between the fourth and third centuries B.C.